The purpose of this presentation is to differentiate the various degrees of truth in the meaning of the words Possible, Plausible, and Probable, when used in a Scientific context. In the common use of these words, in laymen terms, these words are used interchangeably, however, in the scientific context, each of these words have a distinct meaning and implication when it comes to determining truth and accuracy. Being able to distinguish the difference between Possible, Plausible, and Probable empowers one to be able to identify weak arguments containing lesser degrees of truth, and also empowers one to be able to construct stronger arguments with higher degrees of truth. This presentation builds on concepts presented in one of my earlier videos entitled “9 Types of Reason” which serves as a prerequisite.
Above is the pyramid of truth. The gold capstone on the top of the pyramid represents “The Truth” – that is information that is confirmed, factual, accurate, and 100% certain. Ideally, this is what we want to obtain. On the way to the truth at the top of the Pyramid however, we have to pass through the three layers in respective order of, Possible, Plausible, and Probable. In short, Possible is what can be true or has the potential of being true. Plausible is truth determined by way of valid logic and reason, and Probable is what is most likely to be true.
But, before we discuss the first of three layers, we have to discuss what the sand represents. The sand represents what is impossible. That is, information that is false, fallacious, phony, and not true. The sand represents information or material that we cannot build with. We use Deductive reasoning, with the capability condition, to separate what is Possible from what is impossible in order to build and construction the first layer of the Pyramid.
The first layer of the pyramid, colored in red, represents information, premises, ideas, or concepts that are Possible. That is, information that has:
- potential to be true,
- it may or may not be true, (various degrees of certainty)
- it obeys the laws of physics
- it exists in the “Realm of Possibility”, within the limits of ability or reality
- there must not be any contradictory proven facts
- there is no guarantee that it is true
- Can be true, capable of being true
The second layer of the pyramid, colored in black, represents information, premises, ideas, or concepts that are Plausible. The word “Plausible” in the context of scientific terminology means, logical and reasonable. From the infinite number of Possibilities, we use logic and reason to determine which piece of information, idea, concept, or premise is Plausible – that is, most reasonable. Different forms of Reason are used to determine Plausibility, including:
- Inductive Reasoning
- Abductive Reasoning
- Causal Reasoning
- Practical Reasoning
The third layer of the pyramid colored with the green to yellow gradient, on our way to the truth, represents information, premises, ideas, or concepts that are Probable. After collecting evidence and data (a posteriori) for your Plausible ideas, you will come across information that supports your idea, and you will come across information which refutes your idea. It is important to note, that Pseudoscience is the process of collecting only the information that supports your idea and ignoring the information that refutes your idea. When Scientists collect data, there will be some information that supports their plausible ideas, and some information that refutes their plausible ideas. Everything Probable must also be Plausible, but not everything that is Plausible is also Probable. Probability is determined by way of Statistical Reasoning when weighing the supporting evidence versus the refuting evidence. The word “Probable” in the context of scientific terminology means something that is most likely, a strong chance, or statistically significant. When the evidence supporting an idea is greater than the evidence refuting an idea, in a ratio of greater than 50%, then it is fair to say that the argument is Probable, i.e. most likely to be true. However, within Probability, there are varying degrees of strength from greater than 50% to 99.9%. You have to admit that something that is 75% likely to be true is better than something that is only 51% likely to be true, and something 85% likely to be true is better than something that is 75% likely to be true, and so on. When you get to the level of 90%, 95%, and 99% probable, then you are in the range of what is called Statistically Significant, where there may be some refuting evidence, but it is highly likely that the argument is true. When people try to debate with information that is true by way of Probability, i.e. highly likely or most Probable, they attempt to find the small amount of information in the minority that refutes the concept and ignore the overwhelming majority of information that supports the concept. And again we reiterate, choosing to accept the minority of evidence for a Probably argument and ignoring the majority of evidence for a probable argument is the methodology of Pseudoscience and not Science. For the overwhelming majority of ideas and concepts, there is information confirming and refuting the idea, and being able to say something is most likely, most probable, or statistically significant is the best qualification that can be given to the majority of information.
For a few concepts, ideas, or information that are deemed 100% probable, i.e. 100% certain and confirmed, with no refuting evidence, then these are the ideas, concepts, and points of information that make it to the gold capstone of our pyramid and can be deemed “THE TRUTH”!
- Possible = can be true, potential of being true
- Plausible = true determined by valid logic and reason
- Probable = most likely to be true