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Evidence is overrated: It’s not what you can show, it’s what you know

You can’t prove the existence of a headache, but it still hurts

Some facts can be known, but not shown. Anyone who’s ever followed a court case knows this all too well, but this is also true of everyday life.

If you have a headache, there’s no way you can prove it to me. A headache, by definition, is a subjectively experienced sensation of pain. I can take your word for it that you have one, but I can’t know for sure since I don’t actually feel the pain in YOUR head. Even if your eyes were bloodshot red and tears were pouring out as you clutched a bottle of Tylenol, I could still choose to remain unpersuaded. You might be acting in an overdramatic manner. There are other possible reasons for why you could be exhibiting those symptoms. Who knows for certain?

But here’s the important part; Even though I am capable of remaining skeptical about your alleged headache experience, YOU still have a very good reason for believing it. After all, arguments aside, you have a direct experience of the headache. My skepticism doesn’t undermine the rationality of what you accept as true.

We’ve all been in situations where we knew we knew something, but we just couldn’t explain it. Then we see someone else who’s better at illustrating things come along and makes it as plain as day. Why is that? Because knowing and showing aren’t the same thing.

Knowing versus showing

To know something means you have a personal awareness of it through direct experience.

To show something means you have the ability to offer a presentation that will convince others of what you know.

Knowing is an internal state.

Showing is a skill.

Here’s my two cents on knowing and showing:

The inability to show others what you know does not negate the validity of what you think, feel, and believe.

Your life is not a game of show and tell

Some people in this world will try to make you feel as if you’re silly, naive, and uninformed simply because you can’t answer their tough questions or refute their skeptical claims. They don’t feel you have a right to believe what you believe if they are unconvinced by your convictions.

I’m here to say that you don’t owe these people an explanation or proof of any kind.

Your personal philosophy of life is not determined by a jury vote. You get to choose your own way of thinking regardless of anyone else’s opinions. Evidence is important when it comes to finding what resonates with you in your own pursuit of truth, but it is grossly overrated in relationship to other people’s need to approve of what you think.

The quality of your life is not determined by other people’s opinions, but by your opinions. Their opinions have no relevance at all until you form an opinion that it does.

Since the benefits and consequences of your beliefs are most fully experienced by you, then you, and you alone, are the one who needs to be convinced.

Anyone else can have a piece of my two cents.


T.K. Coleman

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