We seem to be living in a time when truth itself is subject to interpretation. My truth is truer than yours. Just the idea of that deserves a Wow!
“The idea that all truth is subjective, that there is no objective truth, is a myth. Everything either has an absolute truth value (even if we can’t know it) or is an opinion or belief.”
“This doesn’t mean we can know every truth, this doesn’t mean that what is true for the observer isn’t unique to the observer. It just means that ultimately, underling that, “that which is the case, is the case, independent of our ability to confirm it” and “statements phrased correctly have an absolute truth value.” From an article by Thomas DeMichele.
My older brother had an outsized influence on my early years. One day we were discussing something and he asked me if I had empirical evidence for my statement. Of course as an ignorant kid I had no idea what empirical meant. This is pre-Google, so I found a dictionary and looked it up.
“based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”
That made sense to me, the truth is something that you can demonstrate as true because you have verified or observed the evidence of its truth. “I saw it with my own eyes!”
Fast forward to today and our almost unlimited sources of “information,” “facts,” “eye witness accounts;” and we find ourselves in a world where truth itself is subject to interpretation. Even though I believe I can see with my own eyes (under the right circumstances) that the world is curved; someone else observes the same thing and says its flat. We both believe we have observable facts (empirical evidence) of the opposite conclusions.
Everyone has bias. Old verses young is a bias. White people view the world differently than black people. Republicans live in a different environment than Democrats. Rich have no idea how the real world looks to the poor. Religious people see one thing, secularist another. Everyone has a bias. Can any of us view empirical evidence without our bias determining the “truth.” Probably not.
Through much of our history we have relied upon other people to guide us toward the truth; to help us overcome our natural bias. Priests and preachers have often been our truth tellers; even when we knew much of their truth was not true. Politicians, leaders have on occasion provided a guide towards the right answer, not so much today. Scientists have always guided us towards their truth; but today we are suspicious about science because much of it contradicts things we want to believe. Judges once held a lofty position in our society, but they too are under a dark cloud. Where do we go to find “real” truth?
Your answer to that question will be based on your bias. That is a problem. How do we reach a consensus to what is true if there is not an authority that can establish truth from myth or propaganda?
That search can lead to trusting charlatans because they are very good at scamming people. Honest people often say they don’t know; the con-man always knows. The people with absolute assurance that they have the answers are almost always wrong. So here we are needing a truth teller who is willing to admit that they don’t know the truth all of the time; sounds like a hard sell.
There have been times in my lifetime when we trusted journalist to tell us the truth. In many ways, that is still the answer. Our founding fathers thought so and built it into the constitution; with the protected rights of a free press. But technology and the vastness of communication has worked to create confusion on how the free press does its job; and has gotten entertainment all mixed up with actual fact finding. Now our bias dictates what press is correct and what is incorrect. No objective truth, just choices.
I have a real bias toward books as a source of truth; but of course I write fiction (nice word for lies). But there are authors who have been able to convey truth while telling a story. Maybe we should read some of those wise men again.
- George Orwell “1984”
- S.E. Hinton “The Outsiders”
- William Golding “Lord of the Flies”
- John Steinbeck “The Grapes of Wrath”
Technology may be the ultimate solution. Our national truth computer one day may be able to take all of the facts and sort through the noise and spit out the truth. Of course many people will not believe the machine, which obviously was built and programed by people with bias. Even with a truth machine, it will be easier just to live in our own bubble and believe what we want to believe; after all, I am right.
Long live the King!
This is a special Thanksgiving week post replacing the usual weekend timing. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Thanks for being a reader!