Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tools for the Study and Management of Evidence

In some recent posts I have talked about the importance of conceptual tools. I have been riding this hobby horse for quite some time. Years ago I wrote:
One last word, Brother Lash. I am pleased that the procedures described in The Hypercard(tm)-based Spiritual Exercises of Saint David of Virginia45 [n. 45. For a discussion of this system see Peter Tillers & David Schum, A Theory of Preliminary Fact Investigation, 24 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 931, 944-48 (1991).] strike you as simple and familiar. Since those exercises were intended for the ordinary pilgrim, we wanted them to be user-friendly. Moreover, the spiritual exercises we describe are really only tools. The best tools, of course, are easy to use. It is certainly interesting and reassuring to hear that other pilgrims have made use of exercises like those in our software prototypes. (We have also heard such reports.) Needless to say, we did not invent the methods that pilgrims have used since days of yore to discipline and purify the mind that seeks the bliss of Knowledge; these methods, we believe, are natural to practically Everywoman and Everyman. Thus, if our computer-based network of possible spiritual exercises performs a service, it does so mainly by making it easier for the pilgrim to bring familiar spiritual methods more clearly to mind and to decide how to arrange and combine them to best effect for her particular spiritual situation. Thus, the computer can make even spiritual labor more productive and efficient.

I must admit I am pleased you know what the Prophet (and Saint) David and I are about; unlike some other people, you do not make the mistake of thinking that our spiritual exercises are rituals or rites. As you know, Brother Lash, some Believers hold that ritual has an intelligence of its own and that the mindless repetition of ritual can produce Knowledge. We are grateful that you did not accuse us of pursuing or purveying that sort of unnatural and artificial intelligence. However, I fear you may have made a mistake of the opposite sort. I sense that the simplicity of the procedures and methods in The Hypercard(tm)-based Spiritual Exercises of Saint David of Virginia disturbs as well as charms you; you seem to hint that our exercises lack sophistication. If that was your subtextual intimation, Brother Lash, I fear you have lost sight of the distinction between spiritual exercises and theology. While our tool for organizing the movement of the inner spirit flows from our theology, the tool we have developed is not itself theology or theoria. (It's just a tool.) By the same token, the simplicity of our method of organizing spiritual exercises does not mean that the theoria that produced it is simple or simplistic. I am sure that you will agree that it takes a subtle theology to produce an efficient user-friendly computer-embedded Hypercard(tm)-based network of reciprocally interactive spiritual exercises.

Yours truly,

/s/Peter Pilgrim,
Doctor of Facts

A Curious Document Recently Discovered in the Archives, 14 Cardozo Law Review 149, 162-163 (1992)

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The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

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