Evidence

Evidence is often portrayed as the collection of facts who neatly prove a conclusion. Just follow the arrows. Several things of late hurt my brain as others second guess and respond to the sad truth evidence rarely is so neat.

    1. Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a school gym. The local sheriff processed the scene. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations did an autopsy. The ruling was humans are not designed to be upside down so while trapped in an wrestling mat for a long period of time, the brain suffocated as oxygenated blood could not reach it. The family did not buy the result. Trayvon Martin was at the time still a hot topic. The family exhumed the body and got a second autopsy who said he was murdered. CNN got the surveillance footage with gaps. This situation is insanely mess with no where along the line there being all the evidence there ought. Because this is real life not a crime drama, I guess.
    2. The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan talks about various situations such as the search for alien life as allusions for how the lack of evidence is hard. So we keep looking. He also seemed pretty skeptical of the existence of God. As a self-described person who follows the evidence, this should not be too surprising. Because it really means no evidence really will be good enough.

Facts are facts until they are disputed. Not so much the what as the meaning. (Though sometimes the what in order to change the meaning into a desired one.) One person’s rock solid data point is another’s fuzzy meaningless drivel.

Any time we look at facts or data, our experience also looks at them. They shape the meaning for us. These leaps of intuition are our experience drawing inferences. Sometimes for the good. Sometimes for the bad. Only later do we really discover.

The scientist in me never likes my first answer. I want to prove it wrong. And the second, third, and nth. I want the correct answer and spend as much time as it takes to get there.

The pragmatist in me realizes sometimes I do not have time for the correct answer. Sometimes my best guess will have to do. This disappoints me every time, but I try not to let it get to me.

Communication

A while ago, there was some kind of difficulty understanding why we (the DBAs) and another group were unable to read the same words yet not draw the same conclusion. The words in bold are what I wrote on my white board explaining why there was a difficulty.

Communication

  • Vocabulary
    • Standards: Words have agreed upon meanings which we refer to as the definition. However, the same word can have different meanings depending on context. Therefore we need…
    • Experience: Past usage by self and others determine which definition is appropriate during any specific event.
      • Mental Filters: We cannot handle everything which happens to us at once, so our brains cheat. Filters drop everything except the expected. Which filters are in use to expect certain things can be as easy as beginning a conversation with certain keywords.
      • Recall: Getting past the filters gets to memory retrieval.

A lack of common experience means we get primed for different mental filters. Therefore to have a good conversation, everyone needs to draw on common experiences, a process called framing.

This is pretty much as far as we got, I think.

Common experiences could be physically shared. An example could be: “Do you remember the meeting 7 months ago when discussed changing the sourcedid.source for those four schools?” The mental filters for concepts discussed in that meeting are primed.

Common experiences could be metaphorical. Anything someone else should have lots of experience using makes a useful way to convey information without having to go very far. Unfortunately, it is hard to know in advance how much someone actually knows.