The Truth... What is it?

Faced with a controversy, who & what is a person to believe? The expeditious and common answer is to believe the person who "seems" most believable. But that can lead to a mob mentality or herd activity. Political tacticians as well as news media and advertising types depend on this. Lawyers depend on this as they do their best to sway juries. In the all-important sense of the command by Jesus for righteous behavior, building and maintaining positive "right relationships" is of huge importance. So, learning to evaluate "both sides of the story" becomes a vital tool in the Christian's life. To that end, those who wish to get at The Truth of such as beliefs in life...especially the religious part of life...ought not to insist that every facet of the religion be based on concrete, empirical evidence, alone. Atheists, for example, demand scientific evidence...implying concrete evidence but usually (through ignorance or deceit) critically based on "expert" opinion. AND, evidence is crucial in medical diagnosis.



  1. Oral evidence: The facts or story as orally presented by both fact witnesses (caught up in the event) and expert witnesses (someone the Court allows presented as an expert) who not only can lie or embellish their stories but can forget, have misperceptions, or literally "see" it differently because their life holds a differing perspective. A pathologist performing an autopsy on a murder victim is a "fact witness" as to the details of the autopsy. The pathologist might also be presented to the court as an expert witness (after hearing the lawyers' questioning of the witness [pathologist], the judge will determine if the pathologist is or is not expert). This is eyewitness ("I saw it!") or auditory witness ("I heard it!") oral evidence. Opinion and non-opinion oral testimony can also be presented in recordings or by hear-say. Investigators/jury members expertly or just innately read the body language of the witness as a help in deciding truthfulness of the witness. For any category of evidence, our legal system (in its adversarial approach to arriving at justice) tends to require testing resulting in weakening or strengthening of a position or opinion by asking for corroborating (agreeing from another angle) evidence and/or rebuttal (disagreeing from another angle) evidence. Oral evidence is the foundation of legal systems and, therefore, ought to be regarded as worthy evidence in such other arenas as "religion" or medical diagnosis.
  2. Real, concrete, objective empirical evidence: actual things such as the gun, the knife, drops of blood, specimens for analysis (but these can not only be deliberately tampered with, they can be mixed up or improperly tested [producing false negative or positive results], inadvertently). This can be scientific evidence or common, layperson evidence. The evidence is characterized and expert witnesses give opinions about it.
  3. Documented...documentary...evidence: writings or video or audio recordings...wills, suicide notes, cash register receipts, ATM slips (these types of evidence can be faked or created as a "set up"). Contemporaneous (immediate) documentation should theoretically hold more weight than documentation created after the fact & much later following the event.
  4. Demonstrative evidence: diagrams, exhibits, or many other means in which the information of the case can be lain before (portrayed to) investigators or a jury to help present a point of view. In the medical arena, the evidence may be shared and collaborated toward a diagnosis in "grand rounds", formal conferences, or around the table in the doctors' lounge or in "curb-side" the hallway...or formal consultations. 

Opinion or strength-of-diagnosis Rankings

Opinions are often weighed as to the strength of the opinion; and conclusions are conventionally considered to be more substantial than opinions:

  1. Extremely weak opinion, example: "the findings are such that a homicidal cause and manner of death are not ruled out". 
  2. Very weak opinion, example: "the findings are possibly due to such and such". This type of terminology is very confusing because a 1 in 10 chance may be what this means to the average juror, but it may mean a one in a million chance to a scientist...sort of like, "possible but not probable". 
  3. Weak opinion, example: "the findings are consistent with (or compatible with) such and such cause and manner of death". This is a vague and weak zone of maybe 5 to 45% probability. 
  4. Less-weak opinion, example: "the findings are such that such and ___ cause and ___ manner of death are probable." This terminology is weak because it legally indicates no more than barely more of a likelihood than the flip of a less than 51% probability. It is my guess that much office, minute clinic, and urgent care diagnosis operates fairly well at this level, especially when there is little to be gained by reaching a higher level of certainty (which is often not possible because an ongoing disease is dynamic and without static findings that never change. 
  5. Mildly strong opinion, example: "the findings indicate that it is far more likely than not that the death was caused by..." [This is legally considered to indicate a greater-than-50% probability.] 
  6. Stronger opinion, example: "the findings are such that there is a reasonable medical certainty that such and such is the cause and manner of death." Such terminology indicates an 80 to 100% probability. NOTE: it does NOT indicate absolute certainty! 
  7. Very strong opinion, example: "the findings are such that such and such cause and manner of death is beyond reasonable doubt." This indicates a 98 to 100% legal probability. 
  8. Strongest opinion, example: "the findings are such that such and such cause and manner of death are" ...."without a doubt,"..."absolutely certain"... "100% certain"...or, "I have CONCLUDED that such and such is the cause and manner of death." 

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posted 7/24/98 (1st update Oct. 2011; latest addition 15 November 2015)