From: L. Michael Hall
2022 Neurons #17
May 2, 2022
A TRUTH MINISTRY?
YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!
If there ever was a bad idea, a really bad idea, it is the idea that the Biden White House is now proposing, a Dis-information Bureau. If that comes to pass, then I will recognize George Orwell as one of the great prophets of our time— 1984 has become a reality.
Last year I wrote In a series of articles on facts. The fact about facts is that even defining a fact, let alone identifying true facts, is a very challenging task! All of science is dedicated to that and the fact is that facts keep changing. We all know about facts in medicine that keep changing, facts about how to eat healthily seem to change almost weekly, but even facts in physics change. There were major paradigm shifts in physics in the last century. And as noted in the series on facts, there are all kinds of facts—empirical, social, psychological, mathematical, historical, political, etc. And there are multiple levels of facts. Furthermore, after you have a fact, you still have to interpret the fact. You have to answer the question, “What does this particular fact mean?” [The Neuro-Semantics of Facts is on the Gift section of www.neurosemantics.com]
So for someone, anyone, to think they have a monopoly on facts or truth is the height of arrogance as well as stupidity. Stupidity because they don’t know or have forgotten that “the map is not the territory.” They don’t know, have forgotten, or were never taught that truth is about statements. When it comes to something be “true or false,” we are talking about a statement that is asserting something. If I say, “It is raining.” that statement is either true or false or partly true and/or partly false.
When we engage in the most fundamental human activity—searching for truth— we are looking for a construct about our understanding of something. We are searching for statements that are true and that we can count on. A statement is true when it asserts something, an understanding about what something is, how it works, its value, etc. When we test it, assess it, then we can find out if it is valid or not in a given context.
Truth is not a thing and therefore nobody “has” it. Truth is a concept, a construct about the validity of a mental map. So the very idea of having a Truth Ministry, a Dis-Information Board, assumes that someone, or some group of people, absolutely know the truth and can tell us The Truth. Consequently, that puts an end to the adventure of search for the truth. Now I no longer need to keep my mind open or ask challenging questions, I just check in with the Dis-Information Department of Political Correctness to find out The Truth. And they will also prevent open discussion or any and every argument that may not be the majority opinion. They will “protect” the rest of us from even being exposed to something they consider not to be The Truth (as if we needed protected).
Searching for the truth— debating, questioning, testing, reformulating, collaborating with people with different points of view, learning about our epistemologies (meta-epistemology), learning about the way we learn and reason (meta-learning), etc.—all of that is very different from absolutely knowing and having The Truth. Here is an important, nay a critical distinction, the ideal of truth and the claim of possessing The Truth.
I would have thought that we as a human race would have gotten over this after the Dark Ages. That’s when inquisitions were invented to torture anyone who did not agree with the politically correct Truth of the time. If not then, then maybe during World War II when dictators arose in so many countries claiming to have the final truth. But here we are again. Now Joe Biden thinks that the way to counter Elon Musk’s “uncontrollable” freedom of speech on Twitter is to create a Dis-Information Governance Board. It sounds like an Orwellian Big Brother hijack of Woke ideology to impose on anyone who disagrees.
In the name of the First Amendment that guarantees free speech, and in the name of every healthy science that is an open ongoing search for truth— this proposed Dis-Information Board should be defeated so it never sees the light of day. If Woke ideology people want truth, let it be fought out on the marketplace of free ideas where healthy debate can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each side. Shutting down heretics belongs to an age long past. If you think you’re right and that your position on something is true, then let there be a respectful dialogue among people of good will.