John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 20:33:14 +0900

An addendum to my remarks on Wade Tarzia's case of the informant who might
or might not be a ritual go-between.

It strikes me that there are several ways to confirm the inference Wade is
tempted to make. In order of strength of confirmation:

Repeated observations
Repeated observations by different observers
Repeated observations of different subjects by different observers
Repeated observations of different subjects in different places by
different observers

Another kind of confirmation involves the testimony of other informants
which can also be

Repeated by a single informant
Repeated by several informants
Repeated by several informants in several different times and places
Repeated by several informants to multiple observers, etc.

A third possibility is circumstantial evidence. "The informant was carrying
the sacred scrolls and an offer of three hundred cows instead of only two
hundred," a prima facie case that something non-trivial was going on.

None of these forms of evidence make it absolutely certain that the fellow
wasn't just wandering over to inquire if someone had laid in corkscrews for
the wine (I'm thinking of a case in Taiwan where the Lancers Rose was
opened by driving chopsticks through the corks), or to pass the secret
intelligence that Emir now owns an H-bomb to the groom who is in fact
006.5. They may suffice to eliminate reasonable doubt, which is, I suspect,
about as well as we can do.

Peace and Objectivity. Both are worth striving for.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo