Bill Meredith's Comments on "possible versus probable"
Mar 07, 2002 08:33 PM
by Daniel Caldwell
Thanks for your comments on what I wrote about
"possible versus probable." I will comment below on a
few of your statements.
I had quoted Barzun and Graff:
"If you receive a letter from a relative that 
bears what looks like her signature, that  refers
to family matters you and she commonly discuss, and
that  was postmarked in the city where she lives,
the probability is very great that she wrote it."
Bill, you wrote in turn:
"agreed. But to leap from the probability of an
ordinary event of everyday life to the probability of
an extraordinary event not witnessed before nor since
(i.e. raining inside a room) is a rather large leap
wouldn't you say? Or are you saying that the same
evidentiary elements that prove Daniel Caldwell exists
in time and space is sufficient to prove the existence
of Santa Claus?"
But I was not specifically writing about proving the
existence of Santa Claus nor was I focusing on the
"reality" of the "raining inside a room".
A more relevant example would be the question of the
reality of the visitors in the Ooton Liatto case.
Take the chart I made which you will find at:
This event is accepted by even Brigitte Muehlegger as
involving two "real visitors". Even Paul Johnson and
Steve Stubbs agree with this assessment. Isn't this
different than trying to prove the existence of Santa
Or do you perhaps disagree with the assessment of this
case made by Muehlegger, Johnson and Stubbs??
Bill, you wrote:
"And if you would simply acknowledge the possibility
or plausibility of alternative positions, we could
make some progress. If you remain insistent that once
the level headed researcher has determined which of
the possibilities is probable and taken the audacious
step of calling that probability 'the truth' that all
the other possibilities cease to be, then you will
remain fixed in your beliefs and unable to move beyond
Bill, it is hard for me to understand exactly what
point or points you are trying to make here.
For one thing, I do NOT believe that "all the other
possibilities cease to be" once one of the possible
explanations has been deemed most probable in light of
the existing evidence. Look again at the chart at:
At Step 2 there are at least 5 POSSIBLE explanations
of Olcott's encounter with the 2 "adepts." At the
step 2 level none of these possibilities can ever be
ruled out. They never "cease to be" at the step 2
level. But what Barzun and Graff are saying is that
the historian must progress beyond step 2 to steps 3
I assume that Brigitte Muehlegger had good reasons and
evidence for her opinion that the 2 "adepts" in
Olcott's account were "real visitors". I further
assume that Johnson and Stubbs had equally good
In looking at all of their opinions on this Ooton
Liatto case I get the impression that they all believe
that at the step 4 level the most probable explanation
is that real physical men visited Olcott. At step 2
this explanation would only be one of 5 possibilities.
At step 2 one could say that all 5 "explanations"
have equal "weight". All are possible. But that's at
step 2 --- not at step 4.
I hope this may help to clarify a few of my own
Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at
their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and
hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.
Do You Yahoo!?
Try FREE Yahoo! Mail - the world's greatest free email!
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application