I’m having a running argument–a dialog, if you will-about whether individuals make progress for humanity or whether the collective does. Furthermore, the argument extends to truth. Is truth found by individuals probing the universe or by whole societies saying what truth is?
It’s interesting to see how our points of view have us see the same thing in entirely opposite ways. This is called Rashomon, after a Japanese crime story stating widely different accounts of the same thing. When someone sees something, an ink blot for example, what it is to that individual may be vastly different from somebody else’s point of view, even completely opposite of what the majority thinks the ink blot is.
So, if I see a flying bat in an ink blot while you and most everybody else see a house with a family inside, who’s right? Let me recast the question as a multiple choice: What do we have here on this piece of paper? a) a flying bat; b) a house with a family inside, c) an ink blot. Okay, come on, the truth is a), b), or c). Show me where the truth is.
A friend of mine says the truth is what mostly everybody thinks it is. We find definitions, explanations, descriptions of things in places like Wikipedia, the people’s encyclopedia. It must be so if we found it in wiki.com where people write in and contribute what they think they know about something. The Russian ambassador in Dr. Strangelove, the movie, found truth about the Doomsday Machine, stating his irrefutable source as The New York Times, of all things. And last but not least, social networks are touted as defining social reality. You haven’t found truth unless you’ve Tweeted today, Linked In, or went online.
I have trouble with these sources as the describers of truth. I believe Encyclopedia Britannica better. Yeah, yeah, information there gets out of date. But I tend not to believe headlines, little of what’s printed in newspapers, and not much at all on the evening news. Mainstream media feeds information they’ve been fed from sources with other motives than passing on information. I’ll stop short of calling them lies, but a lot is ‘doctored’ data.
Look at global warming. There’s a national hoax, initiated by misinformation from national agencies and perpetuated by politicians who gain power and money from resulting policies. Doctored data as disinformation (wrong information intended to mislead) is then brought as truth to you-the public-by the press and broadcast media.
My friend concludes his end of the argument with a statement about where humanity is going with its current flow of (dis)information (my parentheses): “Digital technology, the web, the cloud… all these things have a significant impact on who we are becoming both individually and as social beings…signals of [humanity’s] inevitable developments. Whether they ought to or not, they simply will. Wikipedia, social networking etc. etc. and now also wiki-government could be viewed as places where large numbers of people connect around ‘loved data,’ that is, data which is cared for by many champions.”
‘Loved data’, ‘wiki-government’, technology as human development? I don’t know about you, but this kind of thinking scares me. The truth of the matter is that an ink blot by any other perspective is still an ink blot.
That being said, I’d still like to know what you think.
Source: Private e-mail communication with a friend seeking truth.