Maybe. I Don't Know. - Truth & Philosopy
Philosophy is as old as recorded human history,; 3100 BC., quite possibly much older. Who's to say that Stone Age humanity did not sit around the fire discussing views on the topics of the day? Like how to avoid carnivores or dodging Woolly Mammoth stampedes. Maybe the best way to knock out that woman you've had your eye on? Maybe. I don't know.
I Don't Know. Sometimes I wonder if those are the three hardest words to say. I Love You shouldn't be all that difficult if you do indeed love another. At least, I find that it comes as natural as the notion of love I have for that individual. Still, I have found that I Don't Know, is one of the difficult things for just about anyone to say. Why? Is it not OK to be unaware of something? Is it embarrassing to not have a full understanding of every subject? I say it freely. I say it because I am hoping whoever I am directing it to might know and turn my Don't to Do. Is that not the point? To increase one's knowledge when dealing in academic pursuits? There's another phrase, however, that's even worse, especially in Philosophy, I Know. Now, I know what your thought process is going like this, it says I am double thinking, contradicting myself. Am I? Can we truly know anything? People use the word 'Fact' when it comes to science. But how many of the so called 'Facts' people hold so dear are only theories?
Like The Big Bang for example. Now understand, I agree this is the most plausible answer to how the universe was created, but, that doesn't matter, it's still just a theory. For all we know the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe out of Dark Matter Play-Doh. Why not? Once again, there is at least strong evidence to support the Big Bang theory which makes it all the more alluring to accept as truth. There's that word again, 'Truth.' Gets thrown around a lot these days, almost, no, for sure, too liberally. I hate to let my geek flag fly so high right now, however, he makes an excellent point. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan's energy spirit is holding discourse with Luke Skywalker and they are discussing Luke confronting his father, Darth Vader, anyway, they begin discussing truth and Obi-Wan says “You will find that many truths you cling to are a certain point of view.” I find that an interesting concept.
We can also look at truth in history. History is more open to us now, thanks to having all the information in the world on our mobile phones, and we know the history they taught in primary and high school, while not flat out lies, were at the least one-sided. Now, do they mock you? No, I don't think that's the case, I think that they were, are, concerned about confusing a developing mind with too much conflict. However, to play Devil's Advocate, which those who comment on my posts know I love to do, maybe it's wrong we don't. Maybe it's best to teach both sides while young, before half and false truths become deep seated. And that only leads to a closed mind. Which, to me, is a fate worse than Dementia.
Look at believers, they expose their four or five year old children to the heaviest philosophical topic ever conceived and install it as absolute truth. I don't want to offend anyone, but, that sounds an awful lot like brainwashing to me. If they are so sure in their faith what's the harm in presenting both sides? If they are such staunch supporters of free will shouldn't the child be able to make their own choice, ergo, being presented with all the data? Because if not, then, yes, it is brainwashing.
Selected Truth; Finding Truth Where We Want To
Now, once a “truth” gets a firm grip on us it is exceedingly difficult to alter it, let alone completely change it. For example, years ago, maybe not even that long, the belief turned “truth” that we only use ten percent of our brains was held firm by a great majority of people, even then I knew it was false. Not because I am smarter or above anyone intellectually, simply because I did my own research and formulated an opinion based on facts known and widely held at the time, indeed, every part of our brain is actively doing its part, all 100% of it. Now, when I learned this I went about like, well, like Abraham, why not?, and began preaching this radical new concept. Much like prophets of old, I meet very heavy resistance. Why? What is so devastating about learning that we use our whole brain? One would think that it would behoove us and cause celebration! That we are not at a disadvantage, that we are indeed capable of great things. However, this was not the case. It caused arguments, division and hurt feelings. Over a simple perceived truth. A truth that, thankfully, is no longer held, by the majority anyway.
There is a group of individuals that hold a truth so outrageous that an uncouth person would openly mock. No, they're not a religious sect, they are called The Flat Earth Society. The truth to this group is that the Earth is flat. Now, to most, if not the rest of, us that sounds asinine. How can anyone believe that? The evidence against it is astronomical. Of course, I was curious and attempted to communicate with the group several times. They never answered my initial emails asking to present my questions so eventually I just sent them and hoped for the best. I am sure you can already guess what my questions were, I am sure you would ask the exact same ones, indeed, I am sure that they have been asked even since we discovered the sphere is the shape of all celestial bodies. So it went;
If the Earth is flat how do you account for line of sight?
How do you account for ships and planes making it around? Would the ship not simply fall off the edge, would the plane not fly off into outer space?
Finally, the big one
When are you planning an expedition to the edge to gather empirical evidence to prove it once and for all?
No answers to this day. In the meantime, I have offered via email to fund the expedition out of my own pocket. I know I would pay good money to see it.
Flat Earth Map
Truth In The Stones
Now, is this group just seeking attention more than validation? Possibly. However, when we look at some other truths that certain individuals hold is it so hard to believe that people would believe something like that? We have shown time and time again the contradictions and inconsistency in the Holy Bible yet millions of people still hold it has truth despite they have no evidence to support the idea. Quite alarming, especially in 2016, is that thirty-five present of Americans believe the bible is to be taken literally, seventy-five percent in the American south. Now, if you have read any of my Biblical Perplexity essays, you can see how this would cause some concern.
The Mormons have a rather far fetched tale concerning the conception of their faith. Their founder, Joseph Smith claims that an angel came to him and told him that ancient Jewish peoples lived in America before the Native Americans, a great civilization mind you, well, at least that's what Mr. Smith said, you see, there is no archaeological evidence found to date that supports such a vast civilization. This angel instructed Mr. Smith to locate what he called The Seer Stones, which, conveniently enough, happen to be buried in his home state of New York. Of course, without a map or any type of locating devise, besides god I suppose, Mr. Smith was able to locate them.
Great! Show me!
Oh no, I was instructed that I must not allow anyone else to see them.
OK, well, can we watch you interpret the vast knowledge and wisdom from them at least?
Oh, no, I am sorry but it takes a very special process to read them, you see, I have to put them in this hat, must be very dark, they glow, you see? Then I will read them out loud to my friend Ben and he will transcribe it.
Be Honest. Truth & Philosophy Poll
What Do You Think Truth Is?
Truth In The Stones Cont.
Now, if anyone came along with a story like that today, sure some people would buy it, there are those that need to be lead and have something to follow, however, one presenting such a tale would either receive a contract from Viking Publishing or a room with a wonderful view at Hotel Lobotomies. Now, Benjamin Harris, the scribe, was not very bright apparently, but, his wife, she was. She immediately questions the validity of Mr. Smith's claims and Buddy Ben defended him tooth and nail, so, Mrs. Harris proved why men in power have always wanted to keep women down, she said give me some pages, I will hide them, you will say you lost them and we will see if he writes the same verse. Ben couldn't argue with that. The plot thickened nicely.
Well, Mr. Smith was not happy when Ben told him. Mr. Smith went to pray on it and wouldn't you know? The angel was upset. So upset that Mr. Smith was told he had to write from a different book that was essentially the same story, but, a little different. Ben was amazed.
The Mormon church boasts over 18 million members. 18 million people find that story to be truth.
Joseph Smith's Seer Stone Examined
Now understand, it may seem that I am picking on religion, however, that's because you haven't finished reading the essay! There are other disciplines that people have replaced abandoned religious dogma with, they say everything is fact, that it is ultimate truth. However, one only need look in the past, or, talk to a professional in the field to know it too as been wrong many times, ergo, followers of this faith must keep an open mind to grow with it. The name of this new opiate of the masses? Science.
For the most part, science is generally true and correct, all the same, most scientists will agree that it really comes down to best guess on a lot of subjects. That may be a hard pill to swallow for some, however, if you look into it, you'll find it could be considered a truth. Depending on how one views it, I suppose. After all, it was scientists who deduced that the earth was flat, when some tried to argue it was round they were hunted down like animals, see? People don't like having their truth messed with! Then we held that earth was the centre of the universe, nope, OK then earth was at least the center of the Milky Way, nope, then at least the Sun was the centre of the Milky Way, sorry. Finally, we found that we are in the backwoods of our own galaxy which is in the backwoods and furthest reaches of an infinite universe. At least that's the consensus for now.
Nonetheless, most scientists are pliable and when the evidence is clear they adopted new stances wholeheartedly, some do not, however, that is only to be expected. No, it is the public that are most guilty of twisting the faith in science to conform to their world. They may watch a program on Discovery or BBC that could be outdated, by years sometimes, and adopt others knowledge, without researching it, and form it as their “gospel”, as their truth. Their point of view.
Be Honest! Truth & Philosophy Poll
Are Children Unable To Comprehend Religion Being Brainwashed By Being Forced To Attend Church?
The Octopus Story; A Lesson In Truth
I would like to share a story with you, a good example how science fever quickly spreads and even adopted as truth from only a single source. I call this the Octopus Story.
A few months ago, when for whatever reason, I was still polishing the brass on the digital Titanic known as Facebook. Really I had lost interest in it sometime ago, however, my truth about it was I was keeping in touch with friends. However, I had an epiphany about that a decided to remove myself from the cacophony, if you will accept that word. I think it describes Facebook best.
Before my release a Facebook friend posted an article and I wish I would have kept it, however, the headline read something like:
SCIENCE CONFIRMS OCTOPUS DNA IS EXTRATERRESTRIAL
Now, all his Facebook friends were loving it! Comments like; “ I knew it” and “Finally, evidence” or “We have known for a long time.” Of course, I chimed in but my comment was a little more grounded. “I am going to research this and get back to you.” So, I read the article he had posted and it cites that the research scientist states that it is alien DNA. So, I don't know if it's still does this or not, but, on Facebook when you finish reading and article it usually populates the space underneath the original post with related subject articles, wouldn't you know it? Right there, from the The Atlantic and another from Ruthers articles that were headlined, in general, like:
OCTOPUS DNA NOT ALIEN, PAPER MISQUOTED
So, see how easy it is to find conflicting arguments? All those people that commented how great it was and how they totally accepted it as truth completely disregarded these articles. Why? Did they not see it? Did they perhaps read it and go on without updating their comment to reflect their new idea? Or, worse, did they put on the per verbally blinders and simply ignore it since it would pop the newest truth bubble that they were so happy to receive? I don't know. I do know that I am not easily convinced either way from two articles, I need to see the original source, the scientist's paper. So after some digging I find that Yahoo was the first to run the story. Well, if you know Yahoo that right there should have alarm bells ringing. So, I find the original article on their site and thankfully the “journalist” cited the paper and provided a link. Now, if you have ever endeavored to research academic papers you will know the frustration. A good majority of them are pay sites, for scientific papers. However, if you know how to find them, you can usually find the students, scientists or researchers site where they will gladly share it with you to increase the number of readers from twenty to twenty-one. I kid of course, just a play on how little attention is paid to all that work.
Following the link I arrived at the original research paper and indeed the researcher does say that octopus DNA is alien. But if you read the whole sentence it reads like this;
“...the octopus DNA is alien compared to any other DNA we have seen here on Earth.”
So, how do you read that? I read it as Alien, as in different, than any other known DNA. Unique. However, you do have to read at least the whole sentence to figure it out and I am sure that the “journalist” at Yahoo was rather busy.
To Spread The Gospel
I returned to Facebook to share my findings with my friend and post it on his wall. Not a single comment. Not a single share. Not even a “thumb” up. However, I am sure him and his friends saw it and I am sure that it shattered a truth that they desperately wanted to believe. Maybe. I suppose maybe they did not see it, maybe it got buried. Albeit, my friend had to have seen it, you get a notice when someone posts on your “wall”. No matter, the point is look how quickly people adopted a notion circulated my internet media, only a few of them as well, (which don't you think an announcement like that would probably have merited worldwide television coverage?), and accepted it as truth. However fleeting it may have been.
The (Almost) Original Octopus Articles
- Evolution 101: No, an Octopus is not an Alien - futurism.com
"Yesterday, a number of sites started running stories that seemed to imply that octopuses are aliens. As in, from outer space." One of many whistle blowers that came rushing to the aide of fighting untruth.
- Octopuses Are Aliens Says Scientists - Huffingtonpost.uk
Even HuffPost got in on the unfounded claim.
- Scientists Declare That Octopuses Are Basically Aliens Geek.com
The original story first appeared on AOL, however, they took their copy down and geek.com is the new front runner when searched.
Part II Cont.
There was another scientific research paper that came about in 2001, the Journal of Reproductive Medicine published an experimental study by three Columbia University researchers indicating that prayer for women undergoing invitrofertilization-embryo transfer resulted in a double success rate of fifty percent pregnancy compared to that of women who did not receive prayer. Of course, women who are naturally driven, most anyway, to have children, especially those having issues achieving it, responded in droves and prayers began taking hold as a way to truth once more. Because as I am sure we are starting to see truth, positive truth mostly, spreads like wild fire and quickly consumes any preconceived notions that were held before. However, there is always someone who disagrees no matter the subject, these people are important, we need that voice of the Devil's Advocate, sure, sometimes they are a pain, but most of the time they help clear the delusions that we are all guilty of creating when it comes to truth. Dr. Bruce Flamm of the University of California did a study on the study and found the parameters and methods were extremely flawed not to mention one of the researchers named on the study had no idea he had been included, until six months after it had been published.
However, if you search for the prayer study hoax you will get page after page of religious dedicated sites that still hold the article as proof. Even though it has been credibly dismissed as falsity.
And finally, to complete the circle let us look at one more group that asserts they know a truth. Again I want to mention the group because, Devil's Advocate, It's what I do. What is more presumptuous than stating a god exists for certain? Well, saying one does not exist for certain. Atheists attest that there is no god period, that is their truth. However, is it not an asinine belief? Is in not the same as saying there is for sure a god? Fine. There is no god. Show me the evidence. In order for a truth to become, at least widely accepted as such, you have to show a little evidence, right? Of course neither religious people or extreme anti religious people can provide any to support their cases. Deep seated truths blind us to this, well, truth.
Maybe. I don't know.
Be Honest! Truth & Philosophy Poll
Should Sites That Pass Off Information Incorrectly Be Punished In Some Way For Slander or Misrepresentation for example?
Conclusion; My Opinion
My goal with this article was to show that truth is indeed a concept, almost voted on by the masses and accepted into the hall of records without so much a notion that something could come along and shatter the idea only to rebuild a new truth in its place. Why can't truth be fluid? Why do we have to conform to a certain way of thinking to tolerate each other? To establish yourself? Maybe it's a fear of change. However, that seems rather silly, change is a natural part of life, as natural as breathing or eating. It just needs to happen from time to time.
Then when new truths emerge, why is it so hard for us to listen and contemplate even the notion or the slightest possibility that we may be wrong, that maybe our truth is incorrect? What would that hurt? Besides ego or pride? Shouldn't we strive for open-mindedness, should that not be a prerequisite for proper philosophical discourse? Should we not hear every argument offered? Because the minute we say “No, that's wrong, I am right.” Well, we turn away from the principal of philosophical reasoning, besides, once it is truth then it's no longer philosophy, right? I don't know.
You see, my interpretation of philosophy is a discipline that specialize in seeking the truth through critical thinking and analysis. Seems fairly basic, right? Well, I can attest, it's not treated as such in a lot of arenas. There is a lot of egos and a lot of competition to prove oneself correct and leave their opponent licking their wounds in a heap. I'm not saying competition is a bad thing, indeed, it does inspire us to thrive and make advancements in order to overcome the competitor. Without it we may not have the world we have today. However, when it comes to proving someone wrong at all cost or belittling someone because their notion differs from ours, then we ruin the concept and drive off those who, while maybe didn't offer a sound argument this time, could have presented a stellar one the next.
Philosopher's Tool Bag
In my way of thinking, and indeed to the live group I belong to here in Portland, we are more of a social club, a wall to bounce ideas off of, not afraid to bring up the silly, weird or far-fetched because that's how other, more solid ideas are born. Besides, we don't know. It could be the simplest answer that will make us all palm slap our foreheads or the most complex that only creates more questions or paradoxes. But, that's the fun part. There is no reason philosophy shouldn't be fun, there is no real reason to take it too seriously, because once people are comfortable of phrases every philosopher had to have in their bag I would choose;
in the environment then the real work starts flowing.
- I see your point
- That's a great way to look at it
and of course,
- I don't know.
Feel free to add, “However”, “But” and any other sedge-way to lead to your argument. But never “That's stupid” or “You have no idea what you are talking about” Those are the responses of arrogance and even if a person is double thinking or completely off base, they are trying, which, should be nurtured and lead in the proper direction. Because, a truth may be, that thinking for one's self is becoming a lost art, so rare that we should never make one feel bad for doing it. Lest we are the ones eventually hunted down. We become the targets of a new truth, the truth of ignorance.
Philosophy should be kept civil and welcoming. Some of the most brilliant minds in the world are also the shiest, the most timid. Because the enemy of the genius is usually the genius themselves. It's already intimidating enough just contemplating these questions and paradoxes, why make it cold and uninviting? Why make our answer the only possible answer and the goal to tear one another down? Are we not all seeking the truth? If so, should we not work together to find it? Maybe by taking our arguments and breaking them into bits and pieces we will find it. Maybe we need to work together and ensure that generations ahead of us there will still be logic, civil discourse and a passion for real truth, whatever that may be. Maybe?
I don't know.
© 2016 Adam Stier