Tag Archives: truth

Why Even Try

Depends on what the definition of ethics isHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously claimed under her leadership the Democrats would run the most ethical congress ever.

My question: why even try?

If ethics are situational and morality is ambiguous at best and pointless at worst, why even pretend, in all your intelligence, to pander to use rubes down here in the trenches?

For many of the leadership in Washington, and most of the Democrats in that rarefied local, there is no objective truth. The only morality comes from being caught.

And so, instead of claiming to run the most ethical congress ever and training a huge microscope and target on yourself, use all that energy to cover and obfuscation and hide what we know you’re going to do anyways because when you don’t believe in objective truth and morality, there’s no reason to trust you to do anything except what furthers your own aim and brings power to those things you consider most important.

So, with the recent “everybody knows except Pelosi” Rangel scandal, and now the Massa issues, and Mr. Porkulus (may he rest in peace) Murtha, and Mr. Sweetheart-Deal Dodd, and Mrs. My-Husbands-Business-Likes-My-China-Policy Pelosi herself, it seems that (D) stands for Dishonest.

The bible asks what companionship can light have with darkness. This isn’t just good marriage advice. It’s good advice for any place where we trust others to work on our behalf. For the average Joes and Janes out here in the sticks, we can still operate as friends and coworkers and have normal friendly relationships. But when we are speaking of handing power and national responsibility to people, we need to ask ourselves this: “If I wouldn’t truth them babysitting my children, why would I trust them running my country?”

Finding Proof In Silence

What is truth?

Perusing Hulu this morning I saw a National Geographic series “Mysteries of the Bible“.  Considering the source is National Geographic I didn’t have much hope for the accuracy of the show but I started watching the first available episode anyway.

Episode 2 purports to investigate the historicity of the nativity narrative.

With an authoritative voice, the narrator begins a list of “fact” after “fact” intended to disprove the majority of the story of the birth of Christ.

Using phrases like “most historians” and an awful lot of “but’s”, the show, in the first 5 minutes, proceeded to claim that because only two gospels mention the nativity narrative and those two mention different aspect of the narrative, they must be disagreeing.

Just a thought experiment here: If my wife and I were to describe a trip we took together and I mentioned how beautiful the scenery was on the drive and she mentioned how pleasant it was at the lake we visited as our destination, would our two stories, through their difference, contradict each others?

I thought not.

Apparently, because one the the gospels only mentions the shepherds and another gospel mentions the wise men, and only one of the gospels mentions that there was a census that prompted Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem, those stories must be figments of the minds of the individual writers.

Using interviews with only a couple “experts” looking and sounding so very authoritative with their reasonable words, the show uses shoddy historical research. Actually I take that back, the show doesn’t even bother checking the historical proofs. The only document they use to support the nativity narrative is the Bible, which they’re trying mightily to disprove. If they can taint the Bible, they’ll have won the argument without a fight.

The problem is that there are a plethora of authoritative sources besides the Bible which can corroborate the historicity of not just the bare fact of Jesus’ birth, but the additional and critical details as well.

National Geographic knows the average viewer will not notice the lack of factual analysis. They know the average viewer tunes into the TV and turns off their mind, accepting anything and everything reported as fact, as fact. There is no critical thinking, no analysis.

This is a cherry picking attempt to discredit the Bible and one of the core narratives it contains. And it may end of shaking the faith of some credulous souls.

For my part I could only stomach 10 minutes of the show, and the logical fallacies, the complete and utter lack of historical data presented, the lack of alternate opinions presented all pointed to this being a hack job so overwhelmingly I couldn’t push myself to watch the rest.

The Internet And The Death Of FUD

The Internet circa 2003
The Internet circa 2003

Latest in our series on the beneficent free market is this wee screed on the internet.

The internet is a good thing. A powerful thing, I think everybody can agree with that. But I would argue it is a good thing too.

I don’t gloss over the terrible things people can find on the internet, the addictions it foments and feeds, the filth it spreads or the lies and slander that so easily pass for worthwhile information on it’s myriad nooks and crannies.

As with anything truly powerful, those who use it best seem to be those who would misuse it and abuse other with it.

But for all the garbage you can so easily stumble upon, there is great good. The potential and realized good both far outweigh the potential and realized evil in the same way the slightest candle will chase and overpower the shadows of the darkest room.

The internet is good because the internet allows information.

This would seem like a tenuous argument at best, but let’s not leave the argument there.

The internet is good because the internet allows information of all types, from all sources, to all consumers.

As Lady Justice holds her scales blindly and impartially, the internet is oblivious to any contextualizing of either the informer or the informed. The information itself can be contextualized, and due to the sheer mass of information on the internet, any single bit can be matched with any other bits to provide context and deeper insight into any piece of information.

But the internet itself does not care. It’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. The internet does not care what or who or how or why or anything else regarding the information that is posted and shared and disseminated through it’s labyrinthine pipes.

Fear is always the result of misinformation or too little information. From the macro fears of life “does God care for my future?” to the micro fears, “spiders!!!!!”, information is the best and most effective form of fear slaying. Reading the bible (maybe even on the internet) we can read God’s promises regarding our lives, and then looking back through our own lives and seeing the providential Hand working through the good times and the bad, that fear can be slayed by information. Using other information we can determine whether or not a given spider is dangerous to humans.

Thus the greatest enemy of fear is information, real and true information.

Now the obvious argument is that lies and disinformation are so very common on the internet, often masquerading as truth very effectively.

However, the internet also addresses that issue by nature, once again, of it’s open information structure.

Prior to instant background checks and credit reports and the globalized economies, trust was a necessary part of a business relationship. Today we still have trust-based systems for those times when a resume just isn’t enough.

References, people who know something and are in positions of trust and recognition, are often called upon to verify the abilities and character of a person. When one is unsure of whether or not someone else can or should be trusted they confer with a third party who has legitimate reason to be trusted and thereby determine the trustworthiness of the person.

With the internet, in it’s connected and interconnected state, we can easily find legitimately trustworthy people and then infer, from those they trust, other trustworthy sources. It is all about the free exchange of ideas and information.

Further, the antagonism that naturally results in such a free-for-all atmosphere further bolsters legitimate reputations as negative information can only with the greatest of difficulty be quashed or controlled, and more often than not, will free itself regardless the efforts of those seeking to control it. Those legitimately trustworthy will weather and withstand the onslaught and thereby gain further credibility.

The internet is the death of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) in that it enabled anybody to speak the truth, share the truth, and find the truth,and be sure it is the truth easily, and with high levels of certainty. It is the greatest leveler of the masses.

The internet could not exist were it not for the freest society in the world pushing and encouraging and growing it beyond the wildest dreams of those researchers at DARPA so many years ago.

Hey, it even allows me, a 20-something nobody to publish my pointless and babbling rants in a public forum with equal opportunity for success as authors of the first degree and highest reputation.

Why Does It Matter?

photo-4Why do I pick on people like the Miss Havisham family, excoriate the misinformed life-form on Medved, indict the frantic yuppies fearful of every nut’s shadow, or judge the juvenile respondents of the Network World poll?

Because every action we take, each response we make, and every choice is informed by our worldview.

Contrary to what many people think, there are absolute truths. It’s not an imbecilic or juvenile response to say that the statement “there are no absolute truths” is self-negating and therefore incompatible with any form of reality known or knowable to any sentient being of any kind. It does not require a deep explanation or understanding of complex semantics. “No” is an absolute, there’s no arguing that.

Following proof of absolute truth is the fact that somethings are correct or right, and other things are incorrect, or wrong. Because there is absolute truth, the belief there are no absolutes is wrong. Simple. Anybody can do philosophy, trust me. Anybody who says otherwise has an inflated view of themselves and is lying, and wrong, all at the same time.

Belief in relativism is not the only incorrect idea we encounter either. The cosmos is full of wrong ideas. In fact, wrong ideas, simply because there can be so many more of them than right ideas, taken together are generally much more popular than right ideas.

I don’t claim to have a complete grasp of what’s right, and in fact I believe most people live their lives somewhere along the fence between right and the many possible wrongs. Sometimes dabbling in right but more often swimming in wrong.

People are too often convinced by the wrong and deceived into incorrect thinking, and the best way to warn others off is to point out the wrong when we see it.

I mount my soap box to show wrong where I see it in hopes that those in the wrong and others observing the situation will hopefully see the err and avoid it themselves.

The truth will win out in the end, but it benefits when we grandstand on it’s behalf.

Truth Has No Chance

I’ve read several articles thanks to links from bloggers and news pages which claim that the ‘first’ Thanksgiving was nothing but the orgies of Europeans occupying the homes and tilling the fields of the deceased tribes of Native Americans killed by disease brought by previous settlers.

I do not dispute the fact that lack of understanding regarding disease and its transmission and the dangers of introducing societies to new bacteria and germs without proper inoculation contributed to great sickness and death of the Native Americans. But do we judge history for what we know or for what they knew?

Are we to be judged for our lack of understanding about something which lead, through that ignorance, to some loss, or for the fact that we attempt to mitigate the loss and mend the ill where we encounter it?

But beyond that.

I’ve read the entirety of the journal of William Bradford, governor of the colony at Plymouth. In the evidence fields that is called a primary source. There are few sources indeed which would countermand his testimony and then only with a preponderence of testimony sharply contradictory to his own.

And yet even the stories I read in the enlightened media were stretches and extentions of certain facts to the exclusion of others and themselves did not contradict the crux of the history laid down by Bradford.

Yes, many of the Native Americans in the area of Plymouth were wiped out by disease just prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims. Yes, the Plymouth settlers used the fallow-lying fields and empty shelters of the deceased Native Americans to aid them in their survival. I think from our posh couches and deep cushions we are unable to relate to the deep fear of the complete unknown and the pain of true hunger experienced by those brave adventurers and we judge them be a standard we, even with our comforts and conveniences would not judge ourselves by given a situation not half so bad as they experienced.

What were they to do with the empty and waiting fields and shelters? Out of principle were they to dig fresh fields beside the fallow ones and out of misguided respect leave the tents of the Natives standing as empty monuments to a culture they had little to do directly with damaging?

I think not.

And moving to a different tack: In the face of the socialist pushes of our government, is it not telling that even with such paltry feed at a few kernels of corn and with the ethics of a strong religious faith, the early pilgrims, laboring undering a falsly hopeful system of common holdings and cooperative farming were falling prey to the exact same lethargy which would so cripple the vastly wealthy Russion communist experiment.

The reasons were there: doing right and acute starvation. The resources were there: a fertile land and skilled and willing workers. And yet, when they did not directly control the resources of production nor own the fruits of their own labors these men and women worked without will or vigor and many lives were lost.

If we cannot accept the facts of history when the controvert our own closely held presuppositions regarding the nature of the world, is there any hope for us to learn from the mistakes of our forebearers?

When the truth is not accepted, do we have a chance?