In light of the current US political environment, I’m motivated to write about the difference between “truth” and, well… “truth.”
My goal is not to talk about the results of the election itself. I’m talking about the conversations we have, and how we have them. How that shapes our worlds…and sometimes, governments. So let’s try to divorce ourselves from any political affiliations, and try to take an objective look at the different ways in which process information into our different representations of reality. (This is impossible of course, because my perception of the objectivity of the discussion is subjective…but let’s give it a whirl anyway!)
Antarctic sea ice and Climate Change
The topic I would like to use to explore “truth” is Antarctic Sea Ice. The reasons I think this is a good topic are, Climate Change is hotly debated, polar icecaps come up often in conversation, much is known, much is also unknown, and many people have come to many different conclusions. It’s perfect for exploring the different ways in which different “truths” rise out of a single topic.
Antarctic sea ice has increased. This is a fact. As in, this has definitely been observed. It’s not a matter of believing it, or accepting it, or any other decision for you to make on the subject. You can see it. It is a “fact.” It is “true.” But to avoid confusing the terms, let’s say it has been “observed.”
So, Antarctic sea ice has increased. This has been observed. What conclusions can be reached from this observation?
Person A might conclude: Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Ice forms when it’s cold. The Earth must be cooling (and take that a step further and you get, “Climate Change is a HOAX!” But that’s getting political).
Person B: Antarctic sea ice is increasing. But Arctic sea ice is decreasing. The climate is changing.
Person C: Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Magnetic orientation affects formation of crystals, such as ice. Venus and Jupiter must be in alignment, bombarding Earth with crystal forming magnetic energy.
Now, I am only assuming this is how people reach conclusions, using some version of “logic”, where they relate the current observation to other past observations in drawing their conclusions. (It is possible not everybody does this). How do we critique them? Can we ever say any of them is right or wrong? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s our task here today. We can talk about the “soundness” of their arguments. How well they’ve managed to use things they know or have experienced to describe the topic at hand. How likely it is that this current attempt describes the ACTUAL reality of the world.” This is the only question worth asking.
(I’m making another assumption here. One that says when we attempt to describe the reality, we value accuracy. That is, given a description that is likely to closely represent reality, and one that is obvious fantasy, we will have more use for the representative one.)
So, what do you think? Which of the three conclusions is most sound? Least sound?
What conclusion(s) have you reached? And how?
Maybe I’ll leave it at that for now.
There are other topics that could have been explored. Trickle-down economics. Bathroom bills. Vegetarianism. BCS ranking system. Coke vs Pepsi.
Take Gun Control, for example. After a similar “objective” analysis of the available data, many of you that know me might be surprised by the conclusions I’ve reached. Well, some of you that know only my political views might be surprised. Others that know my cold, mechanical insistence to logic might not be so. And that’s another thing I’d like to explore. Identity Politics and how destructively illogical and outrageously senseless like it is.
So, I’ll make this “Truth vs. Truth, Part 1.”
What should we discuss in Part 2?
Let me know in the comments!