The title of this post is a rhetorical question as nearly everyone would rather know the truth, but is this truly how you think and act? When you are “right”, are you not judging this based on what you believe to be the truth? Have you diligently verified the veracity of your own beliefs?
The truth is that the truth takes effort to determine. The process to get to the truth involves gathering as much evidence and facts as possible and being able to understand what they mean. Then this information needs to be filtered and critically assessed in order to understand the big picture. Finally, your actions need to line up with truth.
The truth is that the truth can be uncomfortable. When the data is being filtered that does not mean to remove any negative or painful data. It means to remove any data that is not relevant or patently false. You will never see the entire picture if you are unwilling to even acknowledge the negative.
The truth is that the truth can be known…but only if you care enough to know the truth. If you don’t care enough to put forth an effort to determine whether or not something is true, then how do you know the truth at all? If you put no effort into seeking the truth then you will accept lies told to you from other people, but mostly that you tell yourself. You accept these lies as truth and this leaves you vulnerable. Lies justify immoral behavior. Lies keep your beliefs, thoughts and actions out of sync with each other.
The Truth About Lies
The truth is that we are bombarded with lies. Lies come in many fashions. Lies are logical fallacies and if you have ever engaged in or witnessed an argument on social media you have probably seen people called out for their lies by calling them logical fallacies. The most common one to see online is the Ad Hominem, which is latin for against the man. This is a tactic that is used to attack the person making a claim instead of arguing against the claim. The truth here is that one person thinks they are right and any information that contradicts this belief is false meaning it is ok to attack the messenger. This will either usually end the argument or it will devolve to a discussion that is solely comprised of attacking each other and the original claim is forgotten.
Another common lie that is used is the Straw Man argument. Instead of refuting the points that were introduced, the attacker changes those points to a weaker version of the argument in order to discredit it. If this tactic is not identified as a lie it makes it impossible to get to the truth during this discussion. In order to avoid using this tactic yourself it is a good practice to rephrase the original argument in your own words and ask if that is what was meant. Sometimes that isn’t even enough because each party is using different definitions for words in the argument and these differences need to be addressed in order to reach understanding.
An Appeal to Emotion is to persuade by emotion as opposed to reason. This is a common tactic used by salespeople to get a person to make a purchase based on how they will feel with the shiny new object even though the financial impact will be much more painful. This leads to buyer’s remorse which is a learning moment if you can see it as such. FDR is famously quoted for saying that we have nothing to fear except fear itself. Fear does have a valid use for all beings when our lives are in immediate danger. Fear causes hormonal releases, including adrenaline, that allow us to save ourselves by running or fighting. If we have nothing to actively run from or fight, these hormones will begin to build up and do serious damage to our bodies. If you are fearful even though there is no immediate threat, then you are being controlled.
Ad Populum is an Appeal to the Masses. It is a fallacy that asserts something is true simply because it is popular. Just because something is popular doesn’t relieve you of your duty to perform the due diligence necessary. Going along with the masses because you don’t want to rock the boat is acting without knowing whether or not the truth is known.
Ad Verecundium is the Appeal to Authority. This authority is typically irrelevant, vague or dubious. Milgram’s Experiment on Obedience to Authority brought to light how reluctant people are to confront those who abuse their power. The controversial experiment resulted in 65% of participants administering the maximum shock to the receiver even though they could see them in pain and complaining about heart pain and eventually going completely silent.
Another commonly employed tactic is the Red Herring. This is simply changing the subject of the argument. An Appeal to Ridicule is an attempt to make an argument true because…ha ha ha. A False Alternative is only offering 2 options while omitting other relevant, viable options. Middle Ground is a fallacy that claims the extremes are wrong, but the middle is correct.
The truth is that humans are very creative when it comes to lying and there are many, many more logical fallacies. It is our responsibility to seek truth for ourselves. This requires a serious effort and a deep, concerning care in order to do this. My hope is that if you are reading this blog, that you are a truth seeker and are beginning to understand that an effort must take place in order to get to it.
The Three Fold Path to Truth
The truth is that the truth cannot be taken for granted. The first step is to truly desire to know the truth and accept that there is work involved. Depending on how many lies you have been exposed to and accept as truth, this may be a difficult task, but not impossible.
Having an open mind is the next step. This just means you are willing to gather as much evidence as you can and withhold judgment until you are ready to analyze all of it together. The analysis of the data is the critical mind step. There is a way of thinking that was presented by Aristotle called the trivium. The trivium translates to the three-fold path to truth.
There are 3 steps to the trivium that must happen in a specific order. These steps, in order, are grammar, logic and rhetoric. An easy way to understand this process is look at how a computer uses these same 3 steps but calls it something slightly different. They are input, processing and output.
Unfortunately, this method is not taught to us through public education. In fact, this process is nearly non-existent in modern culture. Fortunately there is information online and in published books available to allow each of us to educate ourselves.
If you have questions or comments, please leave them below. If you would like help along your journey I am happy to share experiences one on one. I can assure you that every emotion will be experienced once you undertake this journey and it has helped me to be able to discuss this with others who have had the same experiences.
In fact, I encourage you to question everything, even the words I write. If you find any fallacies that I present I want to know as my only goal is to know the truth regardless of how uncomfortable it is. My findings have been that the truth isn’t uncomfortable, but confronting the fact that we have been lied to and have lied to ourselves our entire lives is downright terrifying at times. There is also absolute joy in knowing the truth and overall my life is a thousand times better off for caring to know the truth and learning it little by little.
I look forward to continuing this journey for the rest of my life and can’t wait for you to join me on this journey. The truth will allow you to express your true self and that is beautiful.