The Manufacture of Truth
creating truth from approximate facts

subscribe to a semantic belief that ... "No two words in any language mean exactly the same thing". If they did what would be the use of it? There are so many concepts known and unknown that words can never cover them all. Thus, one word may have approximately the same maining or be closely related to another word ... yet, they are distinct from one another even though the people employed by the dictionary company may not be able to identify the difference. Hence, several words are lumped together to give a practical "definition". But one should not be misled when the words used are of great import. They need to be separated and accurately defined so that each is used properly.

Two words of great import are "fact" and "truth". At first thought they seem to be interchangeable. However, a fact is not the truth. Rather, a fact is objective while the truth can be entirely subjective. What's the real difference?

Below, facts are depicted on a field as circles. A fact is here defined as something we can point to and say, "That's what I'm talking about". One might also point to the actions of an object and say the same thing. The objects and their visible interactions are called "facts". They exist in the world independent of men.

The lines connecting the facts represent a "truth". A truth represents our assessment of the facts, i.e. facts which are logically related and proceed to a conclusion. So we may say, "Here are facts 1, 2, 3, 4 which are clearly and undeniably related" (the truth relationship is the line they form which is seen as causally related due to the appearance of non-randomness).

The quantification of a fact is represented as the size of the circle while the placement of the fact on the "logic field" represents a relatedness of type, i.e. the facts seem to go together because of the rules of physics or other reasonings. The facts depicted are only the "relevant facts", i.e. those facts deemed by both parties ... Mr. Right and Mr. Left ... to be associated with the matter at hand. The overall logic field consists of all the facts agreed upon by both parties to be valid but not relevant to the present discussion. Such commonalities of facts are the context in which discussion of the matter at hand occurs. Without such commonalities no discussion can ensue for it is apparent that if two parties cannot agree on let us say, the facts of mathematics ... no discussion is possible at all. Rational discussion (and even irrational discussion) depends on at least some common ground to which both parties agree.

Some facts are misidentified

The 8's and 9's are misplaced or misquantified. Mr. Uncertain sees no particular pattern in the facts although he basically agrees with Left and Right on the positioning of the various facts in the logic field.Not seeing a pattern, he formulates no hypothesis.

Mr. Left and Mr. Right however both assign (or misassign) greater quantitative relevance to some facts such that a pattern occurs which leads to a conclusion or theory about the "matter at hand". Unfortunately, their conclusions do not agree. They are opposite.

Both Mr. Left and Mr. Right express "truths". They are personal truths. When we speak of truth we generally think of the "true truth" as though it is absolutely identifiable. This may not be so in some cases (Goedel undecideable) but we intuitively "know" that there is a truth hidden somewhere that will prove or disprove the validity of one or the other personal truths. Hence, we equate the term "fact" with the term "truth". But as you can see, they are not the same thing.

In fact (logic semantically conspires ;o) ... The "true truth" may be nothing at all like what we have seen from Mr. Left or Mr. Right. The "correct" truth (the true truth) may at times not even be located on this particular position of the logic field. That is, we may be wildly mistaken in what we suppose is the solution to the "matter at hand".

So, how do we find the correct truth?

Facts constrain truth. The limit of constraint is the "correct truth" by definition. That is, if the universe is logical and coherent from one time and place to another ... the limit of factual constraint must be the actual, real truth (or as some would say - God's truth).

Thus, any debate which goes on interminably may be due to the following causes:

  • Insufficient facts to adequately constrain truth. This occurs when data is unobtainable as when the discussion is of a past or distant event.
  • Mis-quantification of the facts ... giving lesser or greater importance to a fact. This error is produced by excessive "dwelling" on a particular fact while ignoring its antithesis.
  • Misplacement of the facts ... seeing relevance where none is warranted. This is often achieved by willful or unconscious misdirection by oneself or another.

It is a wonder that anything at all is ever understood. The reason that it is eventually comprehended is that men who debate issues maintain a calm and reflective demeanor ... not letting emotion cloud judgement in any systemic way. When judging the merits of debate opponents it is often (though not always) true that the person calmest in his presentation is the one closest to the correct truth. I mean here that demeanor is a general indicator but not a validator or correctness in the logical sense.

The above is important to an understanding of "conspiracy theories" in general which go on interminably sometimes for decades.

Here is a Goedel unsolvable truth. A man (A) fights another man in a high rise building. One man (B) goes flying out the window and dies. Is (A) guilty of murder? He says in court that he was trying to save his best friend B from commiting suicide but was unable to stop him from going out the window. There is a video tape of the event but no one can evaluate the truth of A's statement from the picture itself. It seems to validate both interpretations. The prosecutor brings forth A's wife who was having an affair with B. She accuse her husband of a crime. "A" counters with "That is the reason he was trying to commit suicide. I found out. He became distraught at having done his best friend wrong and decided to leap. For my part, I forgave him but could not disuade him from his course.".

Because law is delimited by intent, we cannot prove the case one way or the other in principle because intentions have no discernible physical manifestation, i.e. intent is a subjective "fact" and not amenable to provable logic. It is unsolvable in principle. The outcome must be determined by the jury by reference to their "feelings" about the case and man A's demeanor.