Reactions to truth

November 22, 2007 at 7:08 pm 29 comments

ReactionIn the opening chapter of the book “Why Truth Matters,” the authors talk about how people often hate to hear the truth. Some examples of this would be the reactions people have to hear about their health (“You have a cancer and need surgery”), or their finances (“You are living beyond your means and must economize”), or their ancestors (“Your grandpa was commandant of an SS extermination camp”). Also, people who hear the truth often have the most irrational reactions.

This phenomenon interests me, and I must admit that it annoys me too. Why don’t we welcome truth when we see or hear it? Why do we go to such elaborate extents to cover truth, or hide from it, or deny it, or reinterpret it?

Before looking a bit more at those thoughts though, I want to be sure that no one reading this tries to pat themselves on the back and say, “Boy, that is silly. I’m glad I don’t react to truth like that.” So…..

  • Are you, as a political liberal, perfectly happy when Rush Limbaugh turns out to be dead right about something? Especially if it’s something you strongly disagreed with him about?
  • Are you, as a political conservative, glad to discover that Bill Clinton did something good? Especially if you thought him, “the worst president ever”?
  • Are you, as a de-convert, willing to acknowledge the good done by the Christian faith in the world?
  • Are you, as a Christian, willing to own up to the ugly side of your own denomination, own local church, or own personal failures to evidence “fruits of the Spirit”?

If I didn’t hit home with any of those, pick your topic. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control, free will vs. determinism, Biblical inerrancy, Reformed theology, homeopathy, feminism, evolution/creationism, … eventually something turns up that will serve as your “button”. And when someone presses that button, when they challenge your beliefs in that area, you will grow fangs and excess body hair.

It’s also notable and interesting that we are usually somewhat blind to the areas where we can’t/won’t believe truths that contradicts us. In fact, we usually tell ourselves that we are totally rational about it and that anyone against us is bigoted, misinformed, crazy, mean-spirited, caddish, and so on.

So why is this? Why is being comfortable, or happy, or thinking oneself infallible so damn important that one must become enranged just because one is challenged? Why does even the dry and straightforward presentation of a verifiable fact, or sound argument against one’s position, or the pointing out of a hole in one’s beliefs or logic cause one to cry, rage, become uncivil, go on a tirade, pout, ‘take your football and go home’, and otherwise behave childishly?

Maybe we are all just genetically arrogant. Maybe we all want to be God. Maybe we are a brain-damaged or, dare I say it, soul-damaged race.

Plato thought that all discussion and disputation should be rational and simply deal with facts. Plato was an idealist.

Aristotle saw that discussion and disputation was only partly and occasionally rational, while most of it dealt with feelings, opinions, impressions, and biases. Aristotle was a realist.

How firmly set is that reality? Can we change it personally? And must/should we try to change it?

Lots of questions: not much by way of answers. Except for that very last question. To it I say, “Yes. We must/should change it in as much as we can. Because, along with the authors of the book I mentioned in the first paragraph, I say that truth does matter.”

- LeoPardus

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  • 1. dovelove  |  November 22, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    My first response would be, what’s “truth”? Science has observed that the outcome of scientific experiments is often relflective of what the scientist desires the outcome to be, reflective of his thoughts/beliefs. Two different scientists can each get a different outcome to the same experiment — so what’s the “truth”? :)

    What’s the truth about “bad” and “good”? Is it “bad” that a guy cheats on his wife? Wait, is it still bad if the wife moves on, divorces this man per his cheating, and then ultimately finds a life partner that brings into her life much more happiness — she even realized she wasn’t even in love with the cheating guy? So, with this wonderful outcome for her, spurred by something supposedly “bad,” why — why was it “bad”? If he had not done this, she would still be in a miserable marriage with him, no? You can come up with a mulititude of other examples like that, where something supposedly “bad” brought about a very good outcome — even to those who were the “victims” of the seemingly bad action. So what’s the “truth” about what is “bad” or “good”?

    So what’s truth? And why do you feel it’s so important that everyone embrace yours, or, um, what you believe to be the “truth”? :)

    I personally have seen a great deal of “truth” in a significant area, that the majority of our world doesn’t embrace as the truth. And I know exactly why they don’t embrace it. I’m speaking about metaphysics. People don’t embrace the truth because it scares the hell out of them :) It rocks their world, their “reality.” The one they’ve created with their “truth.” I can understand, and (on a good day, lol) I have no problem that they don’t see my truth :)

    Besides, I know it’s only a matter of time — hints of it are in the programs on television — more programs on this “psychic” thing, the paranormal. We’ve all resisted it for a lot of years, and yet it is an integral part of that which we are — sooo much evidence of the truth of it. And, supposedly, so much evidence that it isn’t the truth, lol But my own experiences have shown me there’s no question of the reality of it… It is firmly my “truth” and there’s no going back once you see this truth…

    But we all have feared it for so long, and this is because of the fear that religion as put into us about such things. They seem to cringe at the thought that we are powerful beings, it goes against their teachings. But it becomes one’s truth only if the heart and mind is opened (just a bit) to the possiblity of it — ya’ gotta be open to it to see it, ya’ gotta “believe” it. And then it very much becomes your “reality,” your “truth.” We get to choose our truth, our reality :) But unfortunately when we choose to believe that we are powerless, then that becomes ones reality…. Why would one embrace a “truth” that ensures their slavery? Look at our world…we are all enslaved by our “beliefs” that we are powerless. Including me. You don’t overcome things that have been burned into your brain since childhood. It’s a long process to become de-programmed of all the lies that we have swallowed as “truth” for such a very long time.

    “We must/should change it in as much as we can.”

    We must/should do nothing except that which we BELIEVE/FEEL we should do, first as individuals, as powerful and potently “intuitive” (plugged into a HIGHER wisdom) beings.

    Following another’s “truth” will bring nothing to us but suffering, when it goes against our own “truth.” And that “truth” might seem absurd or irrational to you, but then again you aren’t the source of higher wisdom for each individual, eh? If you were, how would you dictate this truth to others? Would you create a world where men never cheated, no one ever lied, everythng happening so as to create what you deem a “perfect” world?

    But what about the woman who was ultimately blessed because her husband cheated? Would she remain in the miserable marriage in your or another’s truth, your “good” world? What’s the truth? :)

    The best thing we can do is to simply learn to trust our own hearts, trust that we will do the “right” thing, in the right time for the ultimate “good.” :) Who knows better than us what is right for us in this moment? You? Our neighbor? Anybody but us? That’s our sense of powerlessness, and it is the root of our suffering… If we wish to end or suffering, we MUST learn to trust — love and respect — ourselves. Trust our own inner wisdom, no matter what.

    Allow others to have their own truth, to follow their own path, to find their own peace in the right timeframe for them :) Share your truth as you intuit, but if you are wise, you will not allow it to unnerve you or spur fear within you, because they don’t believe your truth — in this moment :)

    Fear is the root of needing to control others. When we can allow others to believe and conduct their lives as they please, as long as it harms no one else (at that point, we respond as we “intuit,” not as we fear), then we are trusting (not fearing) the flow of life — much wiser than our lower consciousness.

    Again, we simply need to learn to trust our own inner wisdom — and allow others the same. As they say, it’s all “good.” :) Even your disbelief and disagreement in what I’m saying here ;)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 2. dovelove  |  November 22, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    “You don’t overcome things that have been burned into your brain since childhood.”

    Correction. You don’t EASILY overcome them, but it’s imperative that we do ultimately overcome them if we want to overcome the enslavement and suffering we’ve created per our long held beliefs, and to cease the destruction of our world…

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Science has observed that the outcome of scientific experiments is often relflective of what the scientist desires the outcome to be, reflective of his thoughts/beliefs. Two different scientists can each get a different outcome to the same experiment

    It can happen. It depends on the experiment. There are however huge numbers of experiments that turn out the same no matter who does them. (Just one very simple example would be; drop two balls of differing weights off a building and they fall at the same rate.)

    So no. Empirical evidence isn’t relative, though interpretations of it can be.

    why do you feel it’s so important that everyone embrace yours, or, um, what you believe to be the “truth”?

    Where did you get that from? At any rate I don’t think that’s important.

    Now do I comprehend correctly that you hold that we humans have psychic powers? .. or mystical/magical powers like those seen on ‘Charmed’?

  • 4. dovelove  |  November 23, 2007 at 2:26 am

    lol, yes I “hold” that :) My first significant experience with it was about a decade ago. I was in a class of about 30 just regular people, they were all doing this “psychic” thing for the first time, including me. We were given some very simple directives and voila, there it was, this ability in each of us :)

    This morning, I was remembering one of my experiences that day (tame compared to other experiences I’ve had since) and shared it as a blog comment on here,

    http://museditions.wordpress.com/2007/11/21/lunar-astronaut-and-consciousness/

    Ya’ might peruse my blog a bit for related experiences :) I’m a very honest person, but I’m good with your not believing any of it :) I know people have a hard time with such truths, lol ;)

    Hey, I love that show “Charmed.” Good stuff, lol Actually that show does have a lot of symbolic meaning/truth in it, much like the bible … but so do a lot of other things, books, movies…

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 5. dean  |  November 23, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I’ll take you up on 2 of those…
    As a political conservative, I wasn’t the least bit fond of Bill Clinton, but I do admire the fundraising work he’s done with George Bush for Katrina and the tsunami. And that isn’t just because he teamed up with Bush, because I wasn’t terribly fond of his presidency in some ways, either.

    As for owning up to the faults/negatives of my church and/or denomination: I get extremely irritated when churches fail to seize the daily opportunities to make life-changing differences in the lives of people (including my own local church). I’m not just talking about making evangelistic overtures, but going to the poor and needy, the homeless and the sick and DOING something for them. In a lot of ways, “westernized” Christianity has become complacent and some (or many – I have no data to make a hard and fast claim on numbers) churches have taken an inward focus rather than an outward focus. Churches that go into obscene debt on building projects are some of the worst offenders to me. All that being said, it’s kind of like in your family… it’s ok to beat the stuffing out of your little brother, but when somebody from school picks on him, you go to his defense. Even though I can see and point out the problems in the church, I bristle a bit if an outsider points them out :-)

    And finally there is myself. I have not taken advantage of each and every opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those I come in contact with. I work at a children’s home, so in that sense I do invest daily in peoples’ lives, but out in town, at Wal-Mart, the nursing homes… always room for improvement in those areas.

  • 6. titus2woman  |  November 23, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    and then some of us morbidly live in those truths, always deducing and trying to change and better ourselves in a weird way~and probably always failing. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  • 7. karen  |  November 23, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Interesting topic. It was raised in a book review by Kentucky psych prof David Ludden in this week’s eSkeptic:

    More than half a century of cognitive and social psychology research has shown that much of what we see, remember, and think is an illusion. In her new book A Mind of its Own, Cordelia Fine lays out in a highly entertaining fashion the myriad ways in which our vain, immoral, pig-headed brains are constantly deceiving us.

    Although we like to think of ourselves as rational beings, our brains covertly strive to create for us a view of the world and of ourselves that is self serving but not necessarily consistent with reality. Beliefs and opinions are formed quickly and become part of how we define ourselves, so the brain selectively perceives and recalls evidence that supports cherished beliefs while disregarding or forgetting evidence that contradicts our beliefs. Fine calls this “motivated skepticism.” We are naturally skeptical of anything that challenges our beliefs, but accepting of anything that bolsters our beliefs, and hence our egos. For example, it is for us easy to mock the tenets of other religions — “How could they possibly believe that?” — while swallowing whole the equally far-fetched teachings of our own church.

    Motivated skepticism can even lead to belief polarization, a process whereby counterevidence only strengthens the convictions of our beliefs. The counterevidence is strenuously scrutinized for any weakness, which is then used to diminish the validity of evidence for our opponent’s point of view. Our selective perceptions are further bolstered by illusory correlations. These are caused largely by selective memory, in which we remember only supporting examples but not counterexamples. For instance, if you already believe the stereotype that all Asians are shy, you will only recall experiences that support this stereotype. When confronted with an assertive Asian, the reaction is likely to be: “Yes, but she grew up in America.” In such a fashion, counterexamples are simply dismissed as aberrations.

  • 8. Bobby Garner  |  November 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    “A man once stumbled upon the truth, but quickly recovered from his embarrassment and continued on his way as if nothing happened.” – attributed to Sir Winston Churchill

    And indeed, nothing did. There is “no truth value” in anything with which I disagree.

    Such is the futility of defining truth in the relativistic New Age of Aquarius. Marilyn Ferguson defined the process of discovering the truth of any matter, but not just any ole truth. This would be the “higher truth” which is achieved only through the process of facilitated consensus, although she didn’t use the word “facilitated” as that would have been counter productive to her objective. The objective being to destroy the concept of an individual mind as the source of ideas and transfer that function to the community group, the sole authority in the New Age Communitarian philosophy. Thus the group will (or more precisely the will of its committee of leaders) becomes the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”.

    “In 1980, Marilyn Ferguson set forth in The Aquarian Conspiracy a “common ground/consensus” model where the Far Left and the Far Right can compromise and reach agreement on individual issues. In a chapter titled “The Power of the Radical Center,” Ms. Ferguson asserts that Truth is arrived at via consensus, whereas extremes on any issue are merely half-truths:

    “The political perspective of the Aquarian Conspiracy is best described as a kind of Radical Center. Its not neutral, not middle-of-the-road, but a view of the whole road.”
    [...]
    “Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the Hegelian Dialectic in terms of equally assertable propositions that are reconciled by embracing a third proposition which is a “higher truth” -

    “Hegelian Dialectic, Hegelianism. An interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertable proposition (thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertable and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis), the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis).”
    - THE THIRD WAY Politics Of The Radical Center

    So, the Third Way uses the Hegelian Dialectic process to establish its version of truth.

    It is not possible to have an honest discussion of truth in this environment, and that’s exactly how the Third Way Radical Center wants it. Therefore, every mans truth is his own and we will sink or swim according to our own devices.

  • 9. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Dove:

    but I’m good with your not believing any of it

    Glad you have that attitude. For me, when it comes to anything that partakes of the mystical, extra-mental, supernatural, paranormal, etc. I say, “show me”. Mind reading, levitating, clairvoyance, whatever, just show me.

    I have looked into research done on these things. And of course there are rewards like the ones that Houdini’s estate and The Amazing Randi had out for years for anyone who can demonstrate any paranormal ability. The research consistently shows claims of paranormal abilities to be false, and those rewards remain uncollected.

    For my own part I have, on two occasions, extended the offer of my own money and my own body for people who claimed “chi” powers. They would not take me up on it. On two other occasions I allowed “chi” practitioners to attempt their stuff on me without “money on the table”. They failed.

    I’m open to paranormal claims. But I am going to continue to say, “Show me, or I will consider you to be deceived, lying, …..”

  • 10. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Karen:

    Interesting. And much in the vein of just what I was talking about (and lamenting).

    I did find this sentence puzzling though: More than half a century of cognitive and social psychology research has shown that much of what we see, remember, and think is an illusion.

    When I look out the window I see a house, a reddish fence, a car passing, a BBQ pit, and so on. I remember seeing them before. They aren’t illusions. So what is Ludden meaning here?

  • 11. dovelove  |  November 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    “More than half a century of cognitive and social psychology research has shown that much of what we see, remember, and think is an illusion.”

    I agree, it’s ALL an illusion. An illusion that we individually and collectively create with our “energy,” and consequently “truth” is highly malleable. “All things are possible.” :)

    =================

    “Therefore, every mans truth is his own and we will sink or swim according to our own devices.”

    Absolutely.

    =================

    “I’m open to paranormal claims.”

    lol… If you were truly open to it, you would see it :) How do I know this? Because I was formerly a skeptic as well, but when the opportunity came to see it, I was truly open to seeing. And I’ve been living and breathing it for a decade, I know many others who do this, who know this truth — and there are more and more of them “awakening” to it every day.

    If you were truly open to it, you would experiment with it yourself and not expect someone else to “show you.” That gives you an easy out. Our “energy” (thoughts/beliefs) is very potent…just like the scientists who see different results doing the same experiment.

    There are teachers who would be willing to teach a truly willing and open student how to do this — it’s not that difficult. But those who know this truth see you as a resistant child, and they simply don’t want to mess with someone who’s sole purpose is to disprove that which they fear. Examine your own fears, perhaps you’re the one not being so honest — with yourself.

    We all can do this. If I was “lying” as you suggest, what would be my motivation in encouraging you to try this yourself? What would be my motivation in telling you that it isn’t a special thing? That we all can do it, what would your discovering this truth bring to me?? Nothing — but knowing that I helped another pull themselves our of the fear of their own power, and onto a path toward real freedom, and out of the slavery imposed upon us by a society that survives solely on making sure that they keep us fearful and feeling powerless.

    I’m telling you THAT powerless thinking is a lie — and I’m simply endeavoring to move you toward something that will help you to see that you truly have great power within you. That we all do. At the same time, again, I have no probem with you’re rejecting it all, and choosing to live with your long-held beliefs that you are powerless. But I make this effort, and take this time, not only for you but for others who may be silent, reading this, and they are ready to shed the fear and embrace their own power. Real power. And again, I haven’t shed all of my own fears, but I’m gaining on them ;) … and I can do some pretty cool things :) I can know things that are going to happen from one moment to the next, when I make the effort to do so :) Not that difficult for piddly day-to-day events… Ya’ see, if you thought there was a shred of truth in those statements, you’d be moving your ass to find out how :) Hence, easy to deduce that you aren’t truly open to it.

    I’ll wager you read little to nothing on my blog or my Tarot site. If you were truly seeking this, strongly open to the possibility, you would find the truth of it. You are not open to it, and you know you aren’t. It’s an aburdity to you — you’ve made up your mind and no one is going to change it — not at this point.

    I say, you show me ;) Find a metaphysical teacher who’s willing to put up with you, I mean work with you, heh, and/or get yourself a deck of Tarot cards and a book of interpretations of them. Ask the Tarot questions, draw cards and look up the meanings. If you do this, you will see the “magic” in it — and that “magic” is really a reflection of the power of your own energy.

    You additionally show that you’re not open to it by your fearful words, your suggestion that I am possibly (likely) lying — per your declaration of your previous experiences in supposedly trying to see the truth of it. Again I say, you are lying about truly being open to the truth of that which I speak — that is, IF you are not willing to experiment with it yourself. And the likelihood is you don’t want to discover the truth of it, because, like most, you fear it. Okay, I accept that :)

    It would seem that which your original post endeavored to teach is that which you need to learn. That’s often the case, ya’ know :)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Dove:

    I can’t tell any difference between you and a fundamentalist Christian. Both insist that they are absolutely right; both insist that they have the “truth”; both insist that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is close-minded, afraid, rebellious, etc.; both insist that they don’t have to offer evidence, but that others must immerse themselves in your beliefs purely on the basis of your say-so; both are thoroughly non-rational or even anti-rational.

    No ma’am. I have a mind and I will use it. I will not engage in purely wishful thinking.

    I’ll share with you some truth, just as you have. You do not have any powers. You can’t levitate a pebble. There is no magic. Tarot cards are just one more in a long line of frauds. You wish you weren’t just a small, insignificant human being, limited within a frail body, with a limited mind. In short, you wish you were some sort of demi-god, or sorceress. But those are just fantasies. As are your powers. Like all the rest of humanity, you are just one small person, significant only to those in your circle of friends, family, and such, and your life only amounts to a handful of decades.

    That’s the sort of truth that people don’t want to hear or accept. That’s what scares them. It looks frightening and ugly to them, so they refuse it and make up all manner of stories to make themselves feel better.

    I don’t feel better trying to live a fantasy. I prefer to make what I can out of the reality that will come crashing in on all of us no matter what stories we make up. And if that doesn’t always make me feel good, wasn’t it Tammy Wynette who said, “I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden.”?

  • 13. karen  |  November 23, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Yeah, I’m not sure exactly what he was getting at with the opening line there, Leo.

    I suspect it was a bit of hyperbole (gotta have a grabber to start the piece off with! :-) ) just summarizing the overall premise of the book that much of what we think we see and experience is colored by our brains and we’re not truly seeing as objectively as we would like to.

  • 14. LeoPardus  |  November 23, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Karen:

    That much is true. After all it’s the entire premise upon which illusionists build their trade.

  • 15. karen  |  November 23, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Dove, you should’ve been an evangelical Christian. Maybe you were one in a previous life? You can certainly “witness” with the best of them. :-)

    Having been duped for 30 years into dedicating my entire existence to something I now recognize has no empirical evidence behind it, I am persuaded that being as skeptical as possible (given my human limitations) is the best way for me to live life.

    Why people must insist that their personal experiences extrapolate to some kind of SuperTruth for everyone else, I just don’t understand. Been there, done that.

    Here’s an excellent essay in which a fellow skeptic asks the same question:

    Magical thinking is who we are, I guess. If it were only that it serves to enrich some at the expense of others, maybe even make some people feel better, what the hell. If they’re only hurting themselves, or the willingly deceived, should I let it go? But they are hurting people, and it’s pretty clear that eventually it will hurt me. When I see this mainstreaming of stupid, I can’t keep myself from thinking of the other side of the same coin: people flying into buildings, blaming hurricanes on gays, invading the wrong countries, laughing as we pee in the pool. The need for crazy-stupid is great; if straws they be, still grasp at them we must. We’ve gone from flivvers to Ferraris in a sigh and a gasp; from Kitty Hawk fields to the seas of the moon in the eye of a bat; Allan Pinkerton’s shoes to spies in the skies: the power of scientific method is obvious to the most casual glance. Yet despite — or is it because of — the amazing progress we’ve seen at the hands of science in less than a lifetime, people willfully and seemingly in increasing numbers simply ignore it at their convenience. Need to ignore it. Demand to ignore it. Demand that I ignore it.

    –excerpted from http://surgeonsblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/no-alternative.html

  • 16. Richard  |  November 23, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Hi, Leo- A few random thoughts that I am too full of tryptophan at the moment to string together into something cohesive:

    1. The claim to *certainty* regarding that fiendishly vague phrase “absolute” truth is the basis for much mischief from the fundy sect, IMHO. The logic goes something like this: I know my beleifs are true — not just *believe* they are true, I *know*. These truths are as obvious as the sun in the sky. Well, then, if they are so clear, how can others not see it? It cannot be that a persuasive argument can be made for the other side — after all, this truth is crystal clear. So what answer can there be except that those who disagree have something wrong with them? They must be either malicious (i.e., willfully refusing to acknowledge what they must “really” know) or stupid. I think this — claim to certainty — is the basis for much of the Us-vs-Them dichotomy that fundamentalists project on the world. After all, how do they explain us de-cons? Not by saying we made a reasonable decision that they just dont happen to agree with. Lord, no — we were holding on to some secret sin (usually pride), or else we were never really saved in the first place – i.e., there is/was something wrong with us!

    2. SUch claims to truth fundamentally (ha!), I am convinced, feed narcissism. It is a desparate need to be special, somehow — in this case, by being the ones who “get it”. Remember what a rush it was as a Christian to feel you understood what was “really” going on in the world — eschatological signs, or the work of Satan, even the mere existence of atheists confirms mans sinful pride — especially as you realized what a small minority you were in. You were in the know! Of course you pitied all those “lost” (what a loaded term) — but, as Nietzsche taught us, “pity” as an emotion is based on a narcissistic condescention. It denigrates the other by making him in need of our aid.

    3. RE: doveloves claim that you are not “really” open to his Truth, else you would see it—

    Notice there are actually two hypotheses here:
    For any claim, “x”:
    (1) if you are open to this claim “x”, you will eventually see its validity
    (2) the aforementioned openness must be sincere

    Notice how elegantly this little dyad works? The first half, (1) can never be falsified, becaue blame will always be distributed to (2) whenever anyone fails to assent to “x”. With surgical efficiency it allows the maker of claim “x” to believe full-force that “x” is as clear as day and yet never, ever face falsifying data. No one can claim to be reasonable, “open”, sincere, whatever, and yet not have found “x” valid, in this system.

    This is so easy, so under the radar — and so cheap. Every crackpot conspiracy theorist in the world does it. But to the believer, it looks to them like their hypothesis is making accurate predictions: my belief is true and clearly so, yet many people are (sinful/rebellious/brainwashed/ignorant/evil/etc), so I predict many people will disagree with me — and wow, look at all those people who do just that! Just what I predicted!

    4. I have always felt that a good test to determine whether you are really open to other points of view, and whether you really understand them, is this: if you cant understand (or have to explain away, see #3 above) how anyone could reasonably disagree with you on any given topic, then you dont really understand the issue and are too tied to your own opinion on it,

    5. Let me toss this out — “certainty” in matters of dogma serves to protect the believer from the existential anxiety we all feel at being responsible for our own lives. To have to choose among various, uncertain, imperfection options, with no star to steer by, arouses an overwhelming anxiety in those who seek fundamentalism as a solution. Anything, even Calvinism, would be better than having to choose for yourself and be on no more sure ground than the next schlub.

    So, just some musings on the psychology of truth. Almost as interesting as truth itself, if you ask me.

    Richard

  • 17. dovelove  |  November 24, 2007 at 1:35 am

    “I’ll share with you some truth, just as you have. You do not have any powers. You can’t levitate a pebble. There is no magic. Tarot cards are just one more in a long line of frauds. You wish you weren’t just a small, insignificant human being, limited within a frail body, with a limited mind. In short, you wish you were some sort of demi-god, or sorceress. But those are just fantasies. As are your powers. Like all the rest of humanity, you are just one small person, significant only to those in your circle of friends, family, and such, and your life only amounts to a handful of decades.”

    Thanks for confirming and making my point. You said you were open to it. Your above statements clearly show you were lying in saying that — just as I indicated. But I’m sure that lie regarding your being “open,” was just the exception and everything else that you’ve said is the truth :)

    These statements also show how lowly you see yourself. How unfortunate for you, that you feel so small and insignificant. I don’t, and that seems to unnerve you and your compadres :) But I have no desire to convince you of anything. My strong response was merely a reaction to your referencing me as a liar, something you’ve clearly proved yourself to be.

    But I’ll leave you in the comfort of your, um, “truth.”

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  November 24, 2007 at 1:56 am

    Dove:

    Read again what I said:
    “The research consistently shows claims of paranormal abilities to be false, and those rewards remain uncollected.
    ….&….
    I’m open to paranormal claims. But I am going to continue to say, “Show me, or I will consider you to be deceived, lying, …..”

    On the basis of past non-performance I take the default position that claims of the paranormal are not true. I am willing to take a look at any particular claim if the claimant is willing to show what they claim.

    But they never do. Like you, and like most every Christian I know of, they tell me I have to believe with no evidence. To wholeheartedly give myself over to whatever disciplines, prayers, incantations, dance steps, or other practices and beliefs they hold. And all this I must do with no evidence at all. Just because they say so.

    How many terms can I give for that? Hogwash, mental flatulence, bulls**t, etc.

    I see myself as I am. You see yourself as a demigoddess. It’s not so unnerving as it is silly.

    And with all this delusion, you want to say science is crap? And you want to say it while operating a computer, to say it over the internet, while sitting in a home with electricity and heating. Immersed in a world suffused with the accomplishments of science, and dependent on them daily, you then try to pretend that science doesn’t work and flowery delusions are reality.

    It is kind of unnerving really. Anyone who has such a lack of grasp on reality can’t be counted on to act rationally in any case. I wouldn’t want to depend on you in an emergency. Some poor sot could bleed to death for lack of a tourniquet while you explained to him that he could heal himself.

  • 19. LeoPardus  |  November 24, 2007 at 1:57 am

    Richard:

    Good stuff. You clarified some of what I was musing about in the original post. Thanks.

  • 20. Quester  |  November 25, 2007 at 12:08 am

    I believe that objective truth exists, but have no evidence to produce to prove that claim. I find it interesting, though, that almost any group of people can contain such diverse understandings of what is true, that they know, but is hidden from the other who has not the background, education or experience to understand- and those truths contradict each other.

  • 21. Struck Home « Bryan’s Sophia  |  November 25, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    [...] Rather, it deals with an aspect of the human condition I would personally like to overcome.In the post, LeoPardus examines our irrational reactions to certain truths, asking what revelations [...]

  • 22. sojourner53  |  November 26, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    “…I say that truth does matter.”

    Interesting post. Yet, this post raises the questions.
    If truth matters:

    1) What is truth?
    2) Why does it matter?

    This is not a challenge of your opinion. I have no desire to start a long discussion where we each state our point of views and pointlessly try to convince each other of erroneous propositions that each will most certainly make in the eyes of the other. I am nothing more than a student seeking to learn. So… If you would be so kind…

  • 23. Jersey  |  November 26, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Too often truth is nothing more than reality as the way we see it, as my sister would right.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  November 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    sojourner:

    Nicely asked. And interesting. I’ve put down some thoughts. Here they are, such as they are:

    What is truth?

    There are several possible ways to define it. Here are a few.
    -the actual state of a matter
    -conformity with fact or reality
    -a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like (e.g. mathematical truths)
    -an obvious or accepted fact
    -honesty; integrity
    -agreement with a standard or original
    -accuracy, as of position or adjustment
    -fidelity or constancy

    Then there are different areas of inquiry regarding truth. Historical, legal, scientific, philosophical, theological, and so on. Each of those areas can have differing standards and methods for determining what is true about a given thing. And even within each of those areas standards and methods vary.

    So that’s a long way to answer your question with a question. To wit: “Truth in what arena sir?” Obviously the answer varies depending on just what we are discussing.

    [So did I do a good job of ducking that one? :) ]

    Why does it matter?

    I could answer almost the same as for the first question. The importance of truth varies depending on the arena we are looking into.

    [I ducked another one, eh?]

    I tend to think in terms of science since that’s where my mind is most of my day. There truth is usually easy to assess. If I look at an MRI and see a fracture line running along the ulna, the flat out truth is that you broke your arm. Further truth is that you better immobilize that arm until things heal or you’re apt to suffer more damage.

    Of course probability figures in. That arm might heal even if you don’t take good care of it, but the probability is slim.

    I think that truth depends in considerable measure on the variance of probability in the area being considered. With science probability is often fairly narrow, and it can usually be calculated accurately.

    But if we move into other areas of inquiry, probability can become quite broad and much harder to calculate.

    There’s more here, but right now I have to do some work or there is a high probability that I’ll fall behind and get in trouble. Later…..

  • 25. sojourner53  |  November 27, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    LeoPardus,

    Forgive me if I am plodding down a one way street, but out of a desire to understand what you mean, allow me to ask a few more questions.

    You have provided types of truths, things that qualify truth, and possible ways of arriving at truth… but what is truth? Would it be acceptable to define truth, in your opinion, as a universal? Or do I gather right that truth is relative depending on the situation (To wit: ‘Truth in what arena sir?). I realize that the later is somewhat of a stretch and I don’t wish to misrepresent you, but this is the extent of my understanding.

    In your opinion, must truth be an observable? Drawing from some of your previous comments, this seems to be another limitation on what truth is. If this is the case… does this “truth” need to be observed by you or would other witnesses provide sufficient evidence to verify?

    Thank you for putting up with my interrogatives.

    ~For the Pursuit of Learning~

  • 26. Thinking Ape  |  November 27, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    sojourner53,

    You have provided types of truths, things that qualify truth, and possible ways of arriving at truth… but what is truth?

    The answer is 42.

    Seriously.
    Truth is defined as the quality or state of being true or that which most accurately corresponds to reality. “Truth” must be qualified with something: what is the truth… about what? The truth about the acorn? The truth about the properties of gold? This has nothing to do with some sort of futile inquiry into “truth” as “subjective” or “objective” or “relative” or “absolute.” The “truth” concerning the properties of wood is obviously going to be different than the “truth” concerning the properties of hydrogen.

    My following opinion is mine, not Leopardus’. Truth does not have to be observable. However, what is the significance of the “truth” of the tree that fell in the forest? Using Hume’s famous example, no one can verify that the tree fell or not because it has not affected any of their senses. Of course this does not mean it did not happen, but what it does mean is that it didn’t matter. At the same time, the tree is only a hypothesis, but one that could be verified. So to answer your question, the “truth” of something does not need verification to be a reality, but it does need verification if it needs to have any value attributed to it.

  • 27. LeoPardus  |  November 28, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    You have provided types of truths, things that qualify truth, and possible ways of arriving at truth… but what is truth?

    I gave several definitions in the previous post. I’ll just past them here again:
    -the actual state of a matter
    -conformity with fact or reality
    -a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like (e.g. mathematical truths)
    -an obvious or accepted fact
    -honesty; integrity
    -agreement with a standard or original
    -accuracy, as of position or adjustment
    -fidelity or constancy

    Would it be acceptable to define truth, in your opinion, as a universal? Or do I gather right that truth is relative depending on the situation (To wit: ‘Truth in what arena sir?).

    Exactly.

    In your opinion, must truth be an observable?

    Not always. I can’t directly observe another’s pain, or emotions. There are probably better examples. Those just popped to mind.

    does this “truth” need to be observed by you or would other witnesses provide sufficient evidence to verify?

    For those things that are observable, I don’t have to observe them. It helps, but I can take some things on the credible say-so of others. For instance, I’ve never observed Madrid, but I can take the word of others about it.

    Which now leads to queries about how one assesses whether to accept a thing as true or not.

    Just using Madrid as an example I can come up with some criteria.
    -How important is the truth/untruth of the matter in question? (This effects how strong the supporting data must be. In the case of Madrid, it’s not very important.)
    -How much data is there for or against the matter in question? (For Madrid there’s beaucoup data for it and just about none against it.)
    -How reliable are the sources providing the data. (For Madrid, I find maps, travel brochures, and other peoples tales of it reliable, since all of those have been pretty accurate for other places I have been to.)

    Them’s just some quick thoughts.

  • 28. Why Do We Hide From Truth? « GracefulFlavor  |  December 4, 2007 at 5:07 am

    [...] 4, 2007 · No Comments Excellent discussion about why we, as human beings, tend to become enraged when presented with facts that are outside [...]

  • 29. the vegan in the room  |  December 5, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    interesting post, indeed. reminds me of how we have created this society in which the factory farming industry is tucked neatly away so that nobody has to see it. this way, each person is free to paint his own idyllic picture of where his food came from. and i don’t proselytize, but just by being the vegan in the room, people get angry. they get angry and emotional, because they assume i’m trying to take something away from them. they come up with irrational arguments like, “plants feel pain too” and “why don’t you care about *people*”. many people respond in this way lot more readily than, say, asking real questions and engaging in a rational conversation. that’s how frightened they are of the truth that challenges the way they think about their dinner.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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