Dimensions of Truth

Truth is generally seen to be an either/or proposition, yes/no, black versus white, but this is a human concept, so there are other levels to it.

The classical example is that of several blind people describing an elephant: One can feel its ear, another its tail, its trunk etc. they are all telling the truth, and as fully as they can, yet they are not in agreement. The truth here is that they are all right, and all their rights add up to the whole truth.

When investigating beyond your immediate world, there are things you will not be able to know. Historical records are a classical case of this. None are complete, but if you know the period and place well enough, you can make educated guesses; as long as you make it clear what you are doing, this can be accepted as the truth, or at least a truth.

That is a major problem with the wonderful internet, and indeed with what you are now reading. I occasionally cite sources, but mostly, you have to just accept what I tell you. Or not. It is very much your choice. I am giving you very little evidence on which to decide. You can base it on the style of my writing, the appearance of my site, the information you may have obtained abut me, but that is all from the same source, which may be completely unreliable, ie me.

How would you know? Does it matter? Well, it depends why you are reading this. If, like most blog readers, this is to entertain, interest, stimulate your imagination, maybe act as a starting point for you to think about other things, maybe go hunting for confirmation or wander off on a tangent that something here has triggered.

But what you cannot do here is use what I am writing as a citation. You cannot reliably quote what you see here because there is no reliable source. Except if you are citing my opinion. For what that is worth.

And this is a major difference between electronic and printed media, though many will tell you otherwise. Anyone can put stuff on the internet, and that is a truly empowering thing – we can all launch our balloons onto the airwaves and watch them sail away. But the mere fact that it costs nothing for most of this, to be produced and to view, also devalues it.

If a printed book exists, someone has physically written it, found a publisher, convinced them of its worth, and a lot of time and money has gone into its production. When I was learning how to write I often sought out works that had been translated, as this ensured they were worthy of the extra expense, which added extra merit. It has been proofread, and if non fiction, its facts checked, and made litigation proof. That makes it very different to what I am now writing.

But I may not be me. In fact I may be an avatar, or some super computer pretending to be me. And you, dear reader, may not be yourself either. How can you tell? Does it matter?

One thought on “Dimensions of Truth

  1. This is so true and so scary in a world where there is such a dearth of simple critical thinking. A favorite family quote of ours is from The Big Lebowski:
    “Well, that’s just your opinion man.”
    Good to keep in mind!


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