A Guide to Finding Truth In a Confusing and Deceitful World
As anyone who studies philosophy knows, Truth is an elusive thing and concept. After all, we are surrounded by illusions. What we experience as solid matter is 99.99999999% empty space. Colors are subjective and change depending on the lighting. No two people experience the world the same way and no two people view a given “fact” the exact same way. Rather than looking for absolute truth, I would take a more probabilistic approach and call something true if it’s highly likely to be true, absent contradictory evidence.
In his Allegory of the Cave, Plato likened our inability to see the truth to be like living in a cave where all you see are shadows dancing on the walls of the cave, cast by a flickering fire, and where you also may not be aware that you are even in a cave, which is simply your entire world as you know it. Yet, if by determination and luck you manage to venture out of the cave into the bright sunlight, your old world will become clear to you as a dim cave and you will be closer to the Truth. When you are out of the cave, the object in the picture above is clearly seen to be a cyclinder, not a square or a circle. Society must always strive to bring people into the sunlight and out of the cave. That is the difficult mission we should all be on.
It is 100% certain that nearly all things we are told have some bias we may or may not be aware of so it’s important to anchor oneself somewhere in Reality. I recommend starting with your ears and eyes. Believe what your senses tell you when you see or hear it directly (when not inebriated). Not a JPEG or movie in a web browser, but what’s right in front of your eyes. You see the Sun in the sky, believe it. You see your apartment around you, believe it. You feel pain or sorrow, believe it. As the ancient Greeks believed long ago and just as true today, to see is to know.
Use your intuition if you have any. Intuition is your inner self talking to you and it quite often knows the real truth when your outer self does not or is unwilling to admit it. It’s sometimes called Common Sense and we all have some ability to know when things don’t seem right. Intuition can be very quiet and hard to access for a person who is brainwashed and it first requires absolute honesty with yourself. Try hard to find this inner voice of reason because it could save your life and many other lives too. Focus honestly!
Opinions vs. Facts
Learn the difference between opinions and facts. This may sound easy but it is very hard to do at times. Take a fact you know well such as the Sun comes up every day, or more accurately, the world turns with you on it to make the Sun appear to come up and then set later. This illustrates a type of relativity to facts that doesn’t make either perception wrong but where one version is more observational and one is more explanatory. It is best to gravitate toward and seek out the explanatory facts because in the above example, a person who wrongly believes the Earth is a a flat disk might also agree the Sun comes up every day but in some weird geocentric way that defies physics and reality.
Opinions are even more relativistic than facts because they often are based on personal beliefs or leave a lot of things out of consideration, especially if they contradict our beliefs. Opinions are only as good as the foundation they are built on and if there are ANY known lies or untruths in that foundation, then the opinion is ill-informed and entirely suspect. So in analyzing opinions, dig down into the foundation one layer at a time and ask:
- Where did I get this opinion?
- Where did they get their opinion?
- What known facts is it based on?
- Who verified those facts?
- Is there a political or religious bias involved (tribalism)?
- Is the opinion based on trust or distrust? (trust is better)
The point being that we should not easily accept opinions as facts or truth until they pass a few of these tests. Otherwise, keep in mind that there are weaker opinions and stronger ones.
Facts are Objective and Opinions are Subjective.
The Traits of Truth
Though not universal and each thing below is not always applicable, these are the things to look for when determining the veracity or truthfulness of something:
- Matches your real-world observations
- Intuitively makes sense
- Comes from trusted source or known expert
- No hidden agenda behind it
- Easy to explain or demonstrate
- Doesn’t contradict reality
- Seems probable based on prior evidence
- Corroborated by several sources
- Widely agreed upon
- Not built on distrust, but trust
- Has scientific or mathematical backing
- Doesn’t change
The Truth Challenge of Free Societies
In a free society, though by no means perfect, it’s a lot easier to get the full story from multiple sources and then make your own informed determination about things you hear about. However, there is also a double-edged sword to this proliferation of opinions and facts.
We live in a veritable smorgasbord of media outlets, news, stories, opinions, conspiracies, contradicting opinions, agendas and tribalism. Tribalism is a natural human tendency to identify with a larger group based on common traits or beliefs or history. Examples are: racial identity, geographic identity, political identity, religious identity, national identity, etc. Often we identify with intersecting tribes such as, for example only, a Christian Rural American who has a religious-geographic-national identity. Each such multi-tribe identity may have a key identity that is more important to the person. Perhaps they are very religious and their belief in God is their primary guide. This person will generally form opinions and accept facts that first must pass their religious test, which is already a huge opportunity for contradictions with others who don’t share their religious beliefs.
Furthermore, technology has become an amplifier of tribalism because it easily allows tribes to isolate and insulate from the information of other tribes, giving them a steady diet of tribe-only opinions and tribe-approved facts. This is the very definition of brainwashing. It was recently proven that when right-leaning Fox News watchers were paid to watch MSNBC for 30 days, their opinions shifted considerably to the left. You are what you eat, both physically and mentally.
The Truth, like the cylinder above, doesn’t care about your tribe or tribes. We saw this in the Great Pandemic of 2020. The One Reality was there was a highly infectious virus rampaging through society, make many ill and killing many people. The virus didn’t care where you lived, who you voted for or how your prayed. It simply did its virus thing, the same as for millions of years. Yet, we saw a political divide in how seriously to take this non-political virus and what precautions were to be taken. Consequently one political tribe suffered, and continues to suffer much worse consequences than the other. One tribe embraced experts, science and facts, the other opinions and conspiracies. The science tribe won because nothing loses an argument faster than dying.
This represents a failure of our free society to communicate the truth and to penetrate the tribal bubbles, as hard as we tried, so it points to a flaw that must be addressed. We can’t let freedom become our Achilles heel or we could lose it altogether. We must have common facts as the bedrock of a free society.
The Truth Challenge of Autocratic Societies
A dear Russian friend of mine (in Russia) is convinced the “special military operation” of Vladimir Putin’s solitary making is done in co-operation with and according to an agreed plan with Joe Biden. He thinks Joe Biden has willingly given Ukraine to Russia in exchange for some quid pro quo, perhaps due to kompromat or some unseen threat or who knows why. That explains why the US is doing nothing to intervene, he says (when in fact the US is doing a ridiculous amount). This and other things he says are completely irrational based on all the public facts outside of Russia but then again what is a fact in his world? In a way, I can’t blame him for his thoughts as he’s been fed a steady stream of government approved news, opinions and even did a stint in the military where further indoctrination is normal. Putin, former KGB leader is a master at mind control which makes him the most dangerous, most untruthful despot on Earth.
If news seems too consistently clean and uniform, too ideal and unquestioned, lacking adverse points of view and never casts doubts on the government, you live in an autocracy (see below) without a free press and are being fed a story of partial truths or fictional constructions. Reality is messy. If they are not showing you the mess and it seems too good to be true, you are being hoodwinked into a sanitized view that very little resembles reality. A free press is responsible for showing you the cylinder above and showing you how two opposing but accurate shadows can be cast by the same one truth.
Next, believe live video feeds which are remote proxies for your eyes. When events are unfolding live, there isn’t enough time to construct deep fakes but make sure nothing in the live feed seems fishy and ideally it is being shown by a reputable journalist who operates with certain standards and has geo-located the video to match. Even better, if you see corroborating feeds and eyewitness accounts from multiple sources such as phones at the scene, the odds of authenticity are high. It’s almost impossible to outwit a large crowd with phones these days. They WILL document the event with a thousand eyes. If you hear numerous witnesses recounting trauma, believe your ears and eyes. Angry, despondent little old ladies and grief stricken relatives can’t be faked easily. If they tell you about how their husband was shot in the head in front of them in grisly detail, you must believe them. Otherwise, nothing will make sense to you. Nothing is real for you.
Next, identify your political situation. Do you live in a country that has a powerful police state, police and officials are easily bribed, a powerful single leader (autocrat) that’s been in power more than a decade? A leader who can use police or military on command toward groups or individuals with no checks or balances nor intervening agencies nor independent justice? Do you have a fully free press and unblocked access to the Internet, social media, books, libraries, movies, radio? Is dissent or protest allowed or suppressed? Do you have elections with lots of viable candidates and debates between them or pretty much one real candidate and some fake ones? Does your leader always win by a landslide? Do alternative popular politicians conveniently disappear or do you hear from them? Are they in jail or labeled as terrorists? Really, all of them are terrorists? Do you find that normal or odd? If you find it normal, your mind has been hacked and brainwashed and you can’t trust your own opinions in this case so you must seek a trusted outside observer or simply admit you are a slave to the system and will obey your master no matter what.
If you are living in an autocracy, ALL information you receive from the state must be distrusted. In fact you must train yourself to believe the opposite. Autocrats will mix truth with untruth to create a disinformation cloud where it’s almost impossible to know what’s what. You must seek information outside this bubble. All autocrats are delusional liars and manipulators extraordinaire and will control your thoughts in subtle ways so that will you trust what they tell you, especially the longer you let them. It is human nature to form opinions based on the information you are given and the longer it goes the more you will develop the exact world model the autocrat wants you to have. Never trust an autocrat’s insane world model.
A prime example of this is Putin’s characterization of the war in Ukraine as a “Special military operation” which is usually something like a small-scale rescue or pinpoint strike on a limited target, not a large-scale multi-front operation with 200,000 soldiers. Beware when a leader outlaws language and arrests people for using the term “invasion” or “war” instead of his preferred brainwashing euphamesim. When an autocrat outlaws normal words you know you are in trouble. Controlling language is bad but pure lying is worse. Telling people no civilians are being bombed when the entire world has thousands of videos of devastating shelling, missile attacks, body parts and weeping relatives looking over a scorched Earth landscape is pure evil because it means you don’t really care about the suffering you are causing. Believe the thousands of videos, not the single liar.
In most modern democracies, it is thought quite acceptable to criticize the leadership, even harshly with no serious consequences. That is called free or protected speech. It is an essential cornerstone to democracy. It is also considered a sacred right to protest peacefully and voice dissatisfaction (or satisfaction) with whatever motivates you. If you don’t have these rights then you are a victim of oppression that is being crushed into obedience. You have no power to change your government and it will change you instead.
You can see how powerful this mind control is when you don’t even trust your own daughter who is telling you she is in danger of being killed by indiscriminate bombing. Your daughter may actually die or may already be dead. Will you believe the undertaker when he shows you her body, if there are any parts left? Yes, you will then believe your eyes but it will be too late.
Go Outside the Bubble
If you are fortunate and you can look outside your state-run or tribal bubble (cave), and have friends around the world or the country, listen to them. Do a “statistical analysis” of the information and don’t allow conspiracy theories to pollute your judgement. The autocrat (or tribal leaders) will make you believe there is a conspiracy against your tribe because the autocrat is always paranoid and will project this into your mind using endless repetitive propaganda. Real Conspiracies are almost impossible to exist because of the sheer number of people required to keep it secret and make it work. If everybody in the free-thinking world is telling you one thing and people in the autocratic/tribal bubble are telling you another, you should believe the World and not the Bubble version. Verify from multiple sources and you will see the autocrat/bubble is lying to you. If you don’t have access to these other accounts or reality, assume nothing if you know an autocrat is in control.
Draw The Line, Don’t Accept Lies
Once you have determined one lie, you will see a thousand and there are ten thousand lies behind that. Absolutely no news or information an autocrat provides you has anything to do with objective reality, only the safety and power of the autocrat. The enemy to the autocrat is Truth and Information in the hands of the people therefor they will use all means available to avoid that, including intimidation, imprisonment and murder. The people must not be intimidated by the autocrat and his thugs. Instead, THEY must intimidate the autocrat with sheer numbers—millions vs. thousands which will quickly become millions vs. hundreds which will then become millions vs. one—checkmate, the autocrat is captured or killed as usually happens in history or as in the case of Hitler, commits suicide, same result.
Don’t Fear the Bully
The autocrat, with great bravado, will first intimidate his people the most (they are his greatest threat) and in Putin’s case will also threaten the world because he controls a large world-killing nuclear arsenal. The autocrat is unlikely to use his nuclear weapons because 1) the autocrat is a coward who doesn’t want to die and 2) the actual people who would carry out such a strike are likely not suicidal and want to kill themselves, their families and all non-insect life on Earth. He can not do this on his own because it requires very specific physical actions to pull off, not merely egoistic commands. This is called the nuclear fail-safe and has been a cornerstone to world safety.
Anyone who has encountered a bully knows that one punch to the nose and they become a pussycat instantly because they were a coward all along. They autocrat is especially cowardly and always has other people do his dirty work. Once you corner the autocrat, taking them out is nothing. They have no real friends and everyone will be happy to see them go, sort of like when Dorothy killed the witch at the end of the Wizard of Oz (spoiler alert).
Technical Advice for Accessing Information
It is almost impossible to stop all information in the modern, digital world. If you are getting blocked from Internet sites and lose access to outside information, use a VPN to gain access or try a satellite phone or satellite Internet service or find someone who knows about these things. Use your phone to call friends in other countries to get the outside story. Seek as much information as you can get so you know what’s actually happening. Then you can help when the time comes to overthrow the autocrat. do anything you can to be informed about Reality, not fantasy, not what you want or think, but what is actual. Only then will you be equipped to join a movement to save your own life but also all who you love around the world.
The Truth WILL set you free!