Recently I was on Twitter, dicking around with other people, and the people I was dicking around with started talking about “truth” and I wasn’t trying to be serious but I think when I talk to some people on Twitter they assume I’m serious cuz, well, I mean I do always mean what I say even when I don’t, and vice versa, but if I’m ever serious about anything I say, I’m reminded of Deep Ellum to Graceland heroine of mine Edie Brickel, who once sang, “please choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.” So even when I’m serious, I’m just wading in the shallows.
Contrary to popular belief, I can’t swim. Metaphorically speaking. I mean, I can literally swim. At least, I assume I can still swim. I haven’t actually gone to a swimming pool in many years cuz there simply isn’t a pair of swimming trunks I can wear that don’t make me look like an albino horny toad. I may or may not be able to swim. I meant swimming metaphorically in a poetic way that now escapes me at the moment.. What were we talking about, again?
Anyway I backed out of the Twitter discussion cuz they were like trying to define “truth” and I’m like, “I can’t do this in 140” and they were like “you suck” and I was like “oh yeah well you double plus suck more no tag backs!” I’m paraphrasing. Then I got to think about it. If I were to try to define truth, how would I do it? Well, I wouldn’t. Cuz there’s different kinds of truth. This means mathematically there’s more than one truth, so therefore there really isn’t such a thing as truth at all. Only, there is. So that can’t be it either. How does a dictionary define truth?
truth [trooth] noun, plural truths [trooth z, trooths]
1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
All this of course, is utter bullshit. Definitions one, two and five use the word “true” inside the definition, so now you have to go find “true” in the dictionary. Rather than copypaste again I’ll summarize what you’ll find: “truth.” Or even better “not false.” Okay so what about definitions three and five? That which is actual. That which is fact. That which conforms to reality. Something verified to be indisputable.
For some people, it is a fact that Justin Bieber is talented and entertaining, and then there’s the rest of us who know better. So if you believe Justin Bieber is awesome, this is a fact to you. Even if I prove to you that Justin Bieber is just a kid who allowed himself to be manufactured by people with money and influence into a commercial commodity, and is actually popular only because girls (and boys) with disposable income think he’s cute and not because he’s an above satisfactory entertainer or artist, you’d still believe he is talented and entertaining. He entertains you. So to you, that means he’s talented. You don’t need any more evidence than personal anecdotal kind. You know he’s awesome. Even if I could present evidence to you to the contrary, you still wouldn’t accept it.
I used to think Michael Jackson was awesome. Maybe if someday Justin Bieber was found in bed at the age of forty with a monkey, a little boy, and a pile of drugs, maybe then you’ll question his talent and artistry, but the truth would be the evidence presented to you would have nothing to do with his talent and artistry, just that he’s also a beastial pedophile drug user. Even so, you might take that as proof you shouldn’t think he’s awesome. See? Truth is subjective.
Each individual person on this planet, who lives, has lived, or will ever live, has their own internal system for determining what is true. There are far too many variables for me to list them all here, but whatever criteria you use to determine what is true for you will not be identical to whatever criteria I use. In fact it’s probably near impossible to truly and fully understand one’s own internal truth judging system. There’s times when you get a hunch, and you don’t know why, but that person you just met is not to be trusted. You can’t put your finger on it, and it’s possible your reasoning is unfounded, based on things you think are true which really aren’t, but you use that to gauge the truth in others.
Who is to say my truth judging system is better or worse than yours? Well, actually, I am. And you are, and everybody on the planet at one time or another usually finds themselves eventually judging each other’s belief systems. That’s where prejudice comes from and it’s also where being prejudice against prejudice comes from. That’s just one example.
We humans are trapped inside this meat bag we call a body. Before I go further I’d like to add I’m well aware there are people who believe we are more than mere meat bags. That is their truth. I will be offending them cuz I will refer to humans here as meat bags. I’m one myself. I feel qualified to do this. Some will take offense. You’re welcome to take offense. I welcome that you are offended at this reality, because inside the meat bag is comprised a complex nervous system, capable somehow of receiving sensory input, interpreting it, and utilizing knowledge gained to cause the body to interact with its environment. This nervous system and the meat bag containing it has its limitations. Your eyesight for example. You may have the most perfect vision imaginable. Still, you can only see what we call ‘the visible light’ spectrum. You can’t see infrared or ultraviolet for example, so unless you are educated by other means, you’d have no way of knowing about gamma rays or cosmic rays or radio waves or micro waves. You should be able to see them. Tests have shown that some insects are aware of ultraviolet, and some mammals like house cats are able to see further into the infrared which makes them better at night vision. We could argue here that perhaps bugs and cats are more attuned to truth than humans.
If we could see the light traveling through us all the time which our eyes currently don’t detect, perhaps we’d be able to tell of times and places when unprotected exposure would increase our chances of radiation poisoning which may also be a cause of cancer. if we could see radio waves, it’d be easier to determine where and how to put up and move an antenna in order to get better reception. However, we’re not aware of this in common every day life, so to many of us those light rays just don’t exist.
The limitations of our meat bag bodies is not limited to vision. There’s a lot of stuff happening in the universe to which we are totally oblivious. We also know our ears can’t hear every possible sound. We have a range of audibility and some things pitch too high or too low for us to sense them. Some believe these inaudible sounds can somehow affect us in other ways. Sometimes smells can alert one to dangerous chemicals, but only if you know what to smell for. Dogs are much better in this territory. There’s been reports of a dog knowing someone was sick before they did, because the dog could smell changes in their owner’s biochemical makeup. Unfortunately, the dog couldn’t tell anybody, but it changed the dog’s behavior, making it more protective in most cases. This wasn’t gleaned until after the fact. Some would believe the evidence is insufficient to prove a dog can smell cancer or other disease. Others would believe it’s not just smell that’s involved, that some dogs are more in tune with “the other side” than humans.
This “other side” has yet to be proved, yet many argue that’s not reason to believe it’s not there. Still others have sought for centuries to find ways to unlock these hidden truths that they know are there. Sometimes we’re able to detect gaps in our knowledge, and we look at what we do know to then theorize that if what we know is true, there must be ways to find what we can’t detect with just our own senses. Sometimes this proves to be right and sometimes wrong, but even these determinants are under constant scrutiny.
Some of those hidden truths we have been able to detect in other ways due to external phenomena or mechanical objects we have devised for ourselves. We’d never know a coconut had edible meat and drinkable juice inside it if he couldn’t bash the coconut against a rock or cut into it with a large sharp knife. If we believe someone’s entering a room when no one else is there, motion detectors, security cameras can detect their presence, and locks on doors can keep people out without a key. Fingerprint detection kits can offer proof people tried to enter a door, long after they have left the premises.
These tools we make from torches to cars to super colossal super colliders to space stations to satellites all help us discover things we would not have otherwise known about, and answer more questions to which previously we didn’t know the answers.
Some people don’t see these devices as truthful. Some think they are actually hindrances to us discovering actual truths that can only be found within the mind and body, or knowledge that is gleaned magically from a spiritual world no earthly mechanical device has ever been able to detect. To them, the truths of the universe gleaned by science are actual lies. The only truths are those that will lead to whatever they believe their god to be. Some people think there is only one truth. Their god’s truth. Any other answers you get can’t possibly be the right answer.
If their god tells them two plus two equals five, that is what they will believe, because their god told them to believe it. That is their truth. They can’t prove their god said that. I can’t prove their god didn’t say that. Truth is subjective.
If there is an objective truth, it can’t be found inside these meat bags. Even if we did find objective truth, we would only be able to experience it through the sensory away kept alive inside the meat bag, and the medium itself thru which this knowledge must travel has its own weaknesses, some of which we can’t even fathom to understand. Why? Cuz we’re inside the very meat bag that limits our capability of discovering truth objective reality.
And you can’t step outside the meat bag. You need it. You also need the sensory array. Some people believe there are souls and that is their truth too, but we can’t prove they exist outside our minds either. So for all intents and purposes, even if there is objective truth, we’ll never know it. Not so long as we are human. However, perhaps I’ll be proven wrong. Perhaps some day we’ll figure out a way to be able to experience truth while still inside the meat bag.
And maybe pigs will fly.
Anything’s possible, if you believe hard enough, isn’t that right?
No. I’m not being serious.