Friday, 17 June 2016

Can Personal Experience Be 100% Accurate?

When I was a child at the age of around 6, I fell over at school and something stung me on the palm of my hand.  I shook my hand before I got a look at what stung me and then when I looked, I saw a yellow blob with a stinger injecting venom into me.  When I arrived home after school, my mother asked me what stung me and I said I don't know.  She asked me to describe it and I said it was yellow but it wasn't a wasp.  So my mother looked through an encyclopedia of insects and found a yellow ichneumon wasp.  She showed me the picture and told me that's what stung me.  Even though I knew it didn't look like what I saw, I spent the rest of my life believing that I was in fact stung by an ichneumon wasp and I was mistaken in what I actually saw.

Looking back, I based my belief on authority.  My mother based her belief entirely on the fact that it was yellow and not a common wasp.  As a result, I believed something that wasn't true because what I saw was in fact the venom sack of a bee.  This is a fine example of how unreliable personal experience is in finding truth.

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