What is Truth?
Have you ever seen the picture above on your social media? Have anyone ever used it while talking with you as an example of how two things could be true at the same time? I know I have and when I first saw it, I didn’t really pay it too much attention because I thought it was pretty easy to debunk. The number written obviously could not be both a 6 and a 9. However, when Ian used it on the webshow Timcast IRL I realized that there was probably a number of people that didn’t understand this. I believe this may be the best example of what is confusing people in the world today.
So first lets break this meme down. We have a number painted on the ground for some reason. People write numbers on the ground for all sorts of reasons so this is really not that strange. A good example of this would be runways on airports. First, lets point out that the only way this works if the number is written using Arabic numerals. If, for example, this is written using Roman numerals or Chinese numerals, this meme doesn’t work at all. Nor really relevant to the heart of the matter but something that made me giggle nonetheless.
We also must ask a very basic question here. What is a number anyway? Well, simply put, writing down a number is just a representation of a truth. And truth cannot be two different things at the same time. You cannot have 6 of an object and 9 of an object. It is either one or the other. However, what you can have are two different ideas of what you are seeing. So what we really have here are not two different truths but two different views or understanding of A Truth.
See this is where the big confusion is. People think that their understanding of a truth is the truth. But we know that this is fundamentally not true. As our understanding of something grows we get closer and closer to what a truth is but the truth does not change. This is really science in a nutshell. And any good scientist will tell you this. The Earth didn’t suddenly start revolving around the Sun because we finally understood that that was the case. It had always been so. We just didn’t understand that truth.
So, instead of taking steps to find out what the truth is you have the two idiots yelling at each other back and forth about how their right and the other guy is wrong. Probably using all sorts of name calling and profanity in the process. Sound familiar?
Well then, how can we know the truth? Well there’s really only two ways that I can think of. There could be more. Maybe you could think of one. If so please comment what you think that is and we can discuss it. Anyway, the two ways I thought of are:
- Find the guy who wrote it in the first place. To go to the source, as it were. This is obviously the best option.
- The second option is to look for other context clues around that could help you understand the truth. Something as simple as another number written next to it would make it very simple. Of course, the problem with this is that a lot of the time we don’t understand the context clues either. Kind of falls into the using the word in the definition category doesn’t it?.
So does that mean we cannot understand truth? Well I’m not sure there is anyone who can truly answer that question with 100% certainty. Definitely not this random dude you found online. But yes, I believe that there are things that we can say we understand at least as far as humans can. We understand the elements on the periodic table. What fire is. How lungs work. How babies are made. What a human being is. What a dog is. What a tree is. And on and on and on. These things, I would say, we have a pretty firm grasp on. And there are plenty of things that we still have plenty of questions about. Life on other planets. New forms of energy. Dark Matter. What dreams are. Black Holes. Anti-matter. Well, you can just throw all of quantum physics in there really.
I think people sometimes forget that one of the things that we do as Human Beings is search for truth. And it is kind of mind-boggling to me that we care more about being right and making the other guy look like a fool or saying whatever gives us the most power over someone else than searching for what the truth is. Which brings us back to the meme. A wonderful and clear example to what’s going on with this country today. Instead of both sides agreeing that it’s a number that could have two different meanings so we should try to figure out what is the truth. We’d rather just stand there and yell at each other. It definitely makes for much better TV.