Mitch SMith

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Is the truth the enemy of humanity?

I am trying to make sense of this.

Like all children, I was raised to respect the truth.

In subsequent endeavors and research I can say with a fair bit of confidence, that the truth is the absolute goal of life in the role of adaptation - it's true or you die.

But have a look at this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP3-1olMcy0

It would seem that the truth is the last goal of success for a human life.

Is truth actually our enemy?

Have we been labouring under an illusion?

And should humans actually thrive by subverting the truth?

Is it not true that the art of life is the skillful application of lies?

And was the last statement I made the truth? or a lie?

What would the world look like, if humans actually sought truth?

It is clear that it is not the world we live in now.

(edit: to link TED talks is difficult to do pro-actively - this is the talk I wanted to link to:
http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains.html)

  • Mar 5 2013: I can see how truth could be the enemy of the society as we now it today. I believe that the search of truth is the engine of human painful growth and we keep growing.
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    Mar 4 2013: Humanity is the enemy.
  • Feb 27 2013: Talking about and focusing on truth is almost like talking and focusing on someone's body and not the mind or spirit of the person. The most important in this world is good or goodness. Who can complain about something being good, right? That's what truth starts with.

    This is a Swedenborgian approach to what truth really is, it is the shape or form of good. Here are some quotes from and article the link below connects to.
    As Jesus said
    "I am . . . the truth." But now, at His Second Advent, He has given abundant answer. Perhaps the most universally applicable definition of truth given in Swedenborg's Writings is the following: "Truth is the form or quality of good." (HD 24.) Or, as elsewhere stated, "When good is formed so as to be intellectually perceived, it is called truth." (AC 3049.) And again, "Truths . . . are nothing else than goods formed." (AC 4574.) When good - or, if you wish, substitute "love" - when good or love takes form so that you can see it intellectually, that is truth."

    http://www.swedenborgstudy.com/articles/science-math/odo66.htm

    This is just over 5 pages, but "truth" is mentioned 76 times. I hope it helps
    Now I'm going to your 'talk'
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    Gail .

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    Feb 27 2013: IN OUR CULTURE, truth is the enemy, and IN OUR CULTURE, the art of lies is in the skillful application of lies. That much is obvious.

    Apparently humans can thrive FOR A TIME by subverting truth, but truth will catch up with us. It's approaching us now. Look at the perfect storm caused by people unwilling to look at the truth about water pollution, air pollution, topsoil erosion, global warming, spiraling population, and resource depletion all caused or furthered by monetary policy - and that's only for starters. We haven't even ventured into the philosophical or scientific yet.

    The truth shall set us free, whether we want to be freed or not.
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      Feb 27 2013: It seems that way.

      So then .. what is happening between truth and trust?
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        Gail .

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        Feb 27 2013: Denial and willful ignorance - one or both
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          Feb 28 2013: Can we add "honest error"?

          (gap of perception)
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        Gail .

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        Feb 28 2013: I'm not sure. To some small degree, of course. No one knows all things. (Not even me - LOL) But largely, how can anyone live in this world and pay so little attention to what is happening, unless they are afraid to look at what they don't want to see - which is denial and/or willful ignorance?
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          Feb 28 2013: Yes - it gets a bit foggy. This is partly why I raise it.

          We should also acknowledge what is happening in tacit coercion.

          It may be argued that the vulnerable must shut up or suffer.
          In children, this can easily be assumed to become a "learning of the rules".
          Having learned the rules - and particularly having learned to win using them, where is the line which divides inocent survival from willfullness?

          I am sure this can be quantified. But I am also sure that those engaged in such an effort will be made uncomfortable in the process. And that the discomfort will have lasting value.

          A side-issue on this topic is the point of diminished returns for comfort. And i will ask:
          "Is comfort our enemy?" in a future post.
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        Gail .

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        Feb 28 2013: Look forward to that question
  • Feb 27 2013: Yes, truth is the enemy of humanity.

    Watch television for an hour and you will become convinced of this.
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      Feb 27 2013: you are saying the truth here, or not? if you are saying the truth, why? malevolence?
      • Feb 27 2013: The relationship between humanity and truth (or true information) is complex and cannot be capsulized into a few words. Media demonstrate this by spewing falsehoods and fiction, and the passive consumers of this tripe actually pay for it, even if indirectly. Both the producers and the consumers are human and part of humanity. This situation certainly makes it appear that at least part of humanity considers truth to be the enemy.
      • Feb 28 2013: My original comment was intended as humorous.

        My point is that the topic question oversimplifies a very complex subject, and likewise your question is too simple and cannot be answered simply.

        The relationship between humanity and truth (or true information) is complex and cannot be capsulized into a few words.
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    Feb 26 2013: I think there is a possibility that we humans have lived in, and in fact thrived in an environment of where mythology, not truth was used to explain aspects of our world we could not otherwise understand. And, that mythology, excepted as truth was used as a foundation for power and influence over the populace not much different to how "news" and other distribution mechanisms of information are used today. For example, the incredibly irresponsible use and abuse of information about our changing climate to drive policy. Evidently the truth, like it's predecessor mythology is up for grabs by anyone or any group with enough money and resources to twist it to fit their agenda. Truth is not now nor has it ever been our enemy. The enemy are they who would use and abuse information to support an agenda at the expense of the truth. The only "true" enemies to success for a human life in this context are ignorance and other human beings.
    • Feb 27 2013: Agreed.

      Our use of myths continues. The Theory of Relativity is incompatible with the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, and we currently use both theories. One day one or both of these theories will be considered a myth.

      Often what we consider to be truth is just our best understanding to date. The people who believed and used the earlier myths were doing exactly what we are doing today.
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        Feb 27 2013: neither of those are myths, just as newtonian mechanics and electrodynamics are not myths. they are scientific models of reality with a certain area of validity, and a certain precision. they always were and always will be just that.
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      Feb 28 2013: Thanks Daryl - this helps.

      It introduces some aspects of "truth" and "falsehood" that show some grey area - can we call it "trust"?

      If so - How does truth and trust interact?

      @Barry and Krisz:

      Can the continuum of truth->trust->falsehood be reliably modelled in the same way as physics models?

      If so - what are the operands?

      Can I suggest that error must also be part of the equation? A parameter that splits the dynamic of "trust"?
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    Feb 26 2013: Truth is essential for humanity. Behind door #1 is a safe, private place for you to rest and relax. Behind door #2 is a room full of starving hyenas ready and very able to devour the next poor soul who comes through the door. You must choose one door, open it, quickly cross the threshold and close the door behind you. Prior to making your choice would you like to know if the door numbers are correct and TRUE?
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      Feb 27 2013: Need door-keepers to know - one who always lies and one who always tells truth.
      Ask one: "What will he say is behind his door" The answer will always be the lie.
      In real life, these conditions are rarely met: the perfect liar and the perfect truth-teller.

      (Is ther a singular noun in the English language for a person who tells the truth? There are dozens for the liar)
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        Feb 27 2013: My point is that it is essential to one's survival to know the truth. False information never helps in the long run. Truth is NOT the enemy of mankind. Lies are the enemy of Mankind.
        (Logic puzzles call them "Truthers")
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          Feb 28 2013: Yes I agree,

          But this drum needs beating on a regular basis.
          It's a question i ask often, but asking it silently does not beat the drum.
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    Feb 26 2013: do you want to find out the truth about that?
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    Feb 26 2013: What is your case that "the art of life is the skillful application of lies?"

    I would more think that individuals throughout life seek understanding of how things work and often build a picture that includes part of the truth of complex matters, with others perceiving other parts. Conflicts arise because of these different perceptions and how people act on them.

    Specifically, there are a lot of people wanting others to see things only from their particular perspective, either trying to force their truth on others or distaining and ignoring those who see things differently. For some, people who don't agree with them are worthless to engage with.

    The connection to truth here is only that conflicts often arise when one party is confident of seeing the truth more certainly than vast droves of others and how he then acts toward them. It interferes with people's seeking truth or understanding of things together, by working on that giant jigsaw together.

    But perhaps this isn't even within the scope of the question you pose.
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      Feb 27 2013: Hi Fritzie,

      It helps.

      It is a thought experiment. I like to revisit this from time to time - each time yields different insights.