This is a problem with which I am preoccupied. Unfortunately, I do not have time to give it the treatment which it deserves, but I will share this message which I recently wrote to Toonia in another thread, which highlights an example of the problem.
Originally Posted by ygolo
I agree that the problems of economics and politics are daunting. There is so much evidence to account for and many competing theoretical interpretations of that evidence. Think about the great depression, which scholars have been studying for the last 70 years, with all the benefits of hindsight and access to previously private documents, and yet still many disagree about its causes and conseqences, each taking history and learning from it a different lesson. There are some people who interpret the great depression as a market failure, whereas others interpret it as a government failure. The former learn the lesson that unregulated markets cause depressions, and an important role of government is to prevent or cure depressions when they occur; whereas the latter learn the lesson that government interference in the money supply causes depressions, and that government attempts to solve the problem will instead prolong it.
The current conflict in Georgia is likely to be similarly difficult to understand. However, despite this, it is my opinion that you should not withhold judgement, since a theory is either true or false, and nothing else. It might be that you have no particularly strong conviction that a theory is true or that it is false, but it must be one or the other, and so by choosing one you have a better chance of stumbling upon the truth than not choosing either. The important thing thereafter is not to become attached to that view, and to be ready to give it up when (and if) it is founding wanting.
In other words, the evidence does not speak for itself, but must be interpreted. The theories which we employ to perform that interpretation will determine the lessons which we learn, and so the lesson to learn is not as obvious as many often assume. Incidently, this is where falsifiability becomes important, since a theory which can interpret any possible evidence is a theory which cannot be falsified or learnt from, an explanation with no practical utility (though often the illusion).