Tree Graffiti, Berlin, 2010
One of my favorite Buddhist quips is the one in the title. I like it because it reverses the argument from authority that you quite often find in religious discourse, also including Buddhism.
The quip is actually an assertion of the form
If P, then Q.However, the specific P and Q in it actually make it a reversal of another assertion, which is a bit like
If Bubba said it, then it's true.
So it might make more sense to write it out as
If Q, then P.The interesting thing is that
If P, then Q != If Q, then Pfor all statements P and Q that are not tautological. For example, if P = "it is a squirrel" and Q = "it has whiskers," we get
If it is a squirrel, it has whiskers != If it has whiskers, it is a squirrel.Now, if P = "Bubba said it" and Q = "it is true," we get some rather interesting associations.
Let's assume that we're primarily interested in whether something is true or not. In this case, "If Bubba said it, it is true" could be used as a yardstick for it. If, somehow, we could reliably determine that Bubba said it, then we should assume it is true. In fact, this is how a lot of religious thinking proceeds—"If God said it, that settles it," as a one-time net.friend of mine puts it in his .sig.
However, the converse—"If it is true, then Bubba said it"—is completely useless as a test for truth-values. It makes the claim that Bubba has made every possible true statement, but does not preclude Bubba from also having made false statements. Reliably determining that Bubba said it does not mean that it is true. All we can determine from this "If Q, then P" version is that if we can somehow reliably determine that a statement is true, then we should assume that Bubba said it.
That's a Bubba I can live with.
Now, go read what NellaLou has to say about this. That, Bubba definitely said.