Knowledge vs Belief

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AlphaLogica157's picture
Knowledge vs Belief

Knowledge is different from belief. To elaborate on the differences concerning these two concepts.

Knowledge is anything that can be demonstrated to be true and can be validated

Belief is anything that can be established to be true and can be justified

By demonstrate, I mean:

show the truth of (something) by giving proof or evidence.

By establish I mean:

show the truth of (something) by referring to what is widely known or accepted

So with these definitions in mind we can start to examine specific examples to see that knowledge and belief are different insofar as the criteria one uses for holding one or the other. Knowledge is demonstrated, and thereby validated, by evidence that is outside the sphere of personal experience through observation and experimentation, otherwise known as empirical evidence. While belief is established, and thereby justified, by evidence within the sphere of personal experience, otherwise known as anecdotal evidence

I feel it is important to note here that evidence comes in many forms that can be set in a hierarchy, from strongest to weakest:

Empirical evidence (observation/experimentation)
Statistical evidence (analysis)
Testimonial evidence (expert opinion)
Anecdotal evidence (personal experience)

All of these are used in different cases concerning knowledge, with a high distrust concerning anecdotes, and there may be some overlap between them from time to time. But the main point is that when concerning the topic of belief, only anecdotal evidence is used and the reason for this will soon become clear.

To give a simple example, concerning the knowledge of gravity, when one drops a pen to the floor, the pen will always fall, regardless of who drops it, a pen dropped in America will fall the same as a pen dropped in India, even though the cultural and national traditions of these two countries are different, so personal experience plays no role in the outcome. No one needs to be aware of what is widely accepted for the pen to drop, Thus, knowledge of gravity can be demonstrated and this knowledge is validated.

To give a simple example, concerning the belief that Jesus waked on water, one must first have an understanding of the Bible and the claims of Christ's divinity contained therein that allow for this 'miracle' to occur, by referring to what is widely accepted, i.e the Bible is the word of god, one can then establish the belief that Jesus walked on water, and this belief is justified.

The main difference we are seeing here is concerning the strength of the criteria one uses in holding their position of knowledge or belief. When I say that only anecdotal evidence is used in belief, I mean that only through the personal experience of one's cultures and traditions can one use what is widely known or accepted as justification for their belief.

One establishing the belief that cows are sacred and therefor should not be killed in Texas, will not have their belief justified, because that cows are sacred is not widely known or accepted in Texas, and therefore this belief is not true.

In contrast, one demonstrating the knowledge that the earth is round among members of the Flat Earth Society (FES) will still have that knowledge validated, and that knowledge will still be true, regardless of the fact that among members of the FES it is not widely known or, more specifically, accepted, that the earth is round.

And this is why belief and knowledge are not the same. A belief must first be established and then justified in order for it to be true. Knowledge must first be demonstrated, but after it is demonstrated, it is validated and therefore true. To put it another way. The truth of belief requires consensus for it to be both established and justified, the truth of knowledge only requires demonstration to be validated.

Thank you for your time.

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