All knowledge comes in degrees of certainty or reliability.
Reliability is merely an expression of certainty. We’re MORE certain of knowledge if it:
- Comes from sound evidence.
- Makes sense with how the universe works.
- Is not based on less reliable knowledge.
We build stuff that works by basing it on reliable knowledge. How will gasoline burn in an engine? Designers go to proven sources of reliable knowledge or develop it themselves. When we go under the surgeon’s knife we’re hoping like crazy they’re basing the operation on how the body works, not an ancient understanding that includes the “four humors,” for example. We’re hoping they disinfected their hands and utensils based on an understanding of germ theory. Because it works.
That’s the gold standard of reliable knowledge: it works. It’s based on tests that have been, and/or can be replicated by others. We know how thick to build dams at the base because engineers have developed consensus on construction techniques that work 99.999% of the time.
This is science. Someone who embraces science embraces this idea. They get the need for sound evidence, they ask questions like “how sound is my evidence?” and “is there a way this result could have come from something else?”.
And on and on.
People who base their understanding on these principles are evidence-based critical thinkers. These are people you can rely on more. They won’t always be right, and they’ll say so, they will acknowledge that their understanding comes in a degree of certainty.
I’m far more likely to grant confidence in someone’s positions if this is how they operate.