車庫裡的火龍

by Carl Sagan

「一隻噴火龍住在我的車庫裡。。」

假設 (根據心理學家 Richard Franklin的集體心理治療法) 我認真的對你作出這項主張。很自然的,你會想要去證實它。過去幾世紀來有無數關於龍的傳說,但從來都沒有真正的證據。這真是個大好機會啊!

「讓我看看,」你說。我領你進到我的車庫。你往內一看,見到一個樓梯架、一個空漆桶、和一個老舊的三輪車 – 但沒有龍。

「龍在哪裡?」你問。

「哦,她就在那裡,」我答道,雙手隨意一揮,「我忘了說她是隻隱形龍。」

你提議在車庫地上灑麵粉以捕捉龍的腳印。

「好主意,」我說,「但這龍是浮在半空中的。」
於是你說要用紅外線感應器來偵測龍噴出的隱形火燄。
「好主義,但隱形火燄同時也是無溫的。」
你說要在龍身上噴漆,使她不隱形。
「好主意,但她是隻沒有肉身的龍,所以漆會噴不上去。」
如此這般。對你提出的每一個物理實驗,我都有一個特殊的理由解釋它何以行不通。

那 麼,一隻看不見、沒有肉體、飄浮在空中並噴出沒有溫度的火燄的龍,到底跟一隻不存在的龍有何差異? 若無法駁斥我的主張,無法以可證的實驗反證,說我的龍不存在又有何意義?你無法使我的假說失效,而這跟證明它是真的是不同一回事。不能被測試的聲明或是對 反證免疫的主張都是毫無意義的,不管它們多能夠啟發我們的想像。我變成是,在缺乏證據的情況下,要求你相信我的「我說…」。

你從我的堅持 裡唯一得到的結論是我腦袋八成有點古怪,才會說車庫裡有火龍。若醫院檢驗我的腦袋很正常,你又會猜想我到底是怎麼產生這念頭的。你會懷疑我是把夢境或幻覺 當真,那麼,為什麼我分不清現實與虛假? 我可能需要你拉我一把。就算我沒病,我也嚴重低估了人類的可欺騙性。

假設在沒有任何實驗的佐證 下,你依然希望對我的說法抱持一種謹慎的態度,而不直接將車庫裡有火龍這說法拋到九霄雲外。僅管現有事實與我的堅持相左,一旦出現新的證據,你就會願意去 查證它的可信度。當然,你這樣不信任我對我很不公平;而我也不能只是因為你判我蘇格蘭律法中的「無法證明」,就批評你頑固又缺乏想像力。

又, 如果事情產生了變化呢? 好吧,火龍是隱形的沒錯,但你親眼見到灑了麵粉的地板上出現腳印,你的紅外線探測器讀到異常的數據,連彩漆也顯現出一個在你面前浮動的突出冠狀物。現在不 管你之前對龍的存在有多麼懷疑 – 更別提是隱形的龍了 – 你不得不承認那裡有個什麼東西,而且那東西跟一隻隱形噴火龍的特徵吻合。

再 想像另一種情況: 不只是我,連你的幾個彼此素不相識的朋友,都堅持他們自家車庫裡有龍 – 但每一個人的說法都缺乏有力證據。我們一致承認我們對自己遭逢這樣光怪陸離又缺乏物理實證的事件感到惶恐。但我們都不是瘋子。我們猜想,如果隱形的龍真的 躲在全世界各地的車庫裡,而人類現在才開始察覺,那到底意味著什麼? 說實話,我寧可這不是真的,但說不定歐洲和中國那些關於龍的古代神話根本就不是神話。

令人慶幸的是,有人通報在麵粉堆裡發現龍的腳印。但 這些腳印都是在沒人的時候產生的。另一種解釋由此產生。經過深入檢驗後,這些腳印被證明應該是偽造的。另一名火龍證人公開他灼傷的手指,作為火龍噴火的罕 見證據。但就算是這樣,也不能完全排除其他解釋。我們知道除了隱形龍噴的火之外,要灼傷手指的方法還有很多。不管這些火龍理論支持者多麼重視這些「證 據」,它們都缺乏說服力。因此最理性的處理方式,仍是駁斥這個火龍假說,對未來可能的物理證據稟持開放態度,並懷疑到底是什麼讓這麼多腦筋清楚的人產生同 一個奇怪的幻象。


The Dragon In My Garage

by Carl Sagan

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you.  Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself.  There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say.  I lead you to my garage.  You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely.  "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick."  And so on.  I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?  If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists?  Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true.  Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.  What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.  The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head.  You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me.  The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind.  But then, why am I taking it so seriously?  Maybe I need help.  At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility.  Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded.  So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage.  You merely put it on hold.  Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you.  Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise.  The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch.  Your infrared detector reads off-scale.  The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you.  No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me.  Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive.  All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence.  None of us is a lunatic.  We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on.  I'd rather it not be true, I tell you.  But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported.  But they're never made when a skeptic is looking.  An alternative explanation presents itself.  On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked.  Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath.  But again, other possibilities exist.  We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons.  Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling.  Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.



(這篇文章不是我寫的,也不是我翻譯的)

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