The fluidity of truth

In times past, humanity did not have clear notions of truth. The concept of fact was relatively vague and allowed for variety. A person could accept something, let’s say a history for their specific region, while also accepting an accompanying history from others that may have contradictions; those contradictions would not be a problem. An individual could believe in something as truthful while also believing in something else that might constitute a contradiction. A Catholic could accept the story at the beginning of Genesis while also accepting an otherwise apocryphal story like that of Lilith.

Truth had variability and context. The advent of social order, and then intellectual thought, reasoning, and science with its clear and rigorously tested concrete facts has helped humanity reach a distinct level of clarity in its thoughts about the world and existence.

However, this development has displaced the traditional source of knowledge: religion. Religion appeals to those less conscious and forefront parts of the human experience, our subjective feelings of personal truth.

Now, the “culture war” clashes of our contemporary society have come from those religious forces trying to reformulate their beliefs in the form of reason-based knowledge and scientific facts; they aim to create an authority like reason-based truth without its key component: critical thinking.

This can be seen in any ideologically-geared counter-factual education, particularly like those being put forward in the state of Texas. Depicting evolution as “controversial” where no actual controversy exists in the scientific community, for example. The next step after presenting it as a “controversy” is to then depict it as more and more suspect until the common authoritative perspective concludes in its falsity, not out of reason but rather out of engrained half-truths; the tone and authority of science without any true intellectual rigor or evidence.

Bizarre Korean beliefs and urban legends

1.     Fan death – To me, this is the most hilarious urban legend that I’ve encountered.  Apparently, a number of years ago, a man in very poor health was sleeping in a 90+ degree room with the windows closed and had a fan blowing on him, and the fan, in combination with his poor health and alcohol-induced state, caused him to dehydrate and get hypothermia, killing him. Conventional conclusion: don’t go to sleep drunk, dehydrated, and in poor health while the room is ridiculously hot and lacks proper ventilation. The Korean conclusion: fans and air conditioners, when used in an enclosed room, will somehow remove the air from the room and cause you to suffocate. The explanations can vary, like the device “sucking out” the oxygen, the device “chopping” the oxygen up, or pushing the oxygen down to the floor and leaving you nothing to breath. Fans that you can purchase at all of the retailers here have shut-off timers on them that the manufacturers, government, and doctors strongly suggest for you to use so that you do not die from the fan. Everyone in the country, with few exceptions, believes in this and will not accept any notion to the contrary. Korean doctors and academics have researched and documented this “phenomenon” while doctors and academics from around the world have researched and documented how it is not the case and how ridiculous this Korean belief is.  Read more on Wikipedia.

2.     Never write a name in red ink because it will cause the person to die. The justification goes like this: red is the color of blood – blood’s appearance is a sign of death – conclusion: writing a name in red will cause someone to die. The children, and the teachers even more-so, are terrified of having a name written in red.

3.    Your blood type has a direct correlation to the type of personality you have, or will have, and other various things about your life and lifestyle. Never mind things like genetics, environment, and life experiences – it’s your blood type.

4.    The season you are born in determines how tall you will grow. Again, never mind genetics and environment, it all has to do with the season you were born in. There has been substantial research in this field by Korean experts, and every time they find a population that doesn’t follow the trends that they expect to find they will simply label it an anomaly and entirely insignificant.

An explanation of “Mount Impossible”

Richard Dawkins uses the analogy of climbing a mountain for different perspectives regarding the development of the eye, which he dubs ‘Mount Impossible’. The instantaneous development of the complexities of the eye would be the equivalent of leaping from below the mountain to the peak in a single stride.  This would seem impossible, short of some form of divine or extra-human intervention.  If you choose to realize a more gradual process for climbing the mountain, or the evolutional development of the eye, though, you will find the accomplishment much more feasible and plausible via natural and explainable processes.

Evolution: The Modern Synthesis

In the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin proposed natural selection, which is that traits that provide for a species to succeed are those that are passed on while those that are unsuccessful will become less prevalent.  The problem with natural selection, as he proposed it, is that he suggested inheritance occurred by the blending of traits from both parents.  This would cause dilution of successful traits, and thus not allow for natural selection.  In contrast, Gregor Mendel, through the observation of simple trait inheritance of plants, found that there are dominant and recessive quality for each trait, and that each trait was come to separately from other traits.  This would more properly allow for variation seen in species and lack of blending for each trait, thus not resulting in dilution of traits.

“The Modern Synthesis” is the resulting combination of the ideas of Darwin, Mendel, and Meischer.  Independently, Darwin’s Origin of Species was not able to explain the means by which traits were passed on.  Also, Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, while able to explain the passing on of traits, did not provide for the actual mechanisms by which those traits were passed on.  The discovery of DNA by Meischer, and its combination with Darwin’s natural selection and Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance allowed for a complete understanding of the physical mechanisms, trait inheritance, and overall trends of evolution.

Soul and Mind

The concept of the immortal soul is one that is incredibly difficult to defend in reason and observation, difficult to connect to one’s body, and hard to differentiate from an ethereal mind. Instead, it’s much easier to promote just the mind, as the mind is something we phenomenally experience as well as have a physical counterpart to.

The mind is a metaphysical entity, a center of operations, that is a byproduct of a field effect emanating from the human body. As the whole is not the sum of its parts, the field effect of the mind cannot be wholly observed through human brain composition or activity.

An analogy of this would be software visuals on a computer. The image created from a data file cannot be observed in the binary code alone, but as a composite visual product created on the display. Our thoughts manifest themselves, not in the physical material that is the composition of our brains, but in our actions. A similar analogy may also be made with that of the relationship between subatomic particles and physical objects. The subatomic particles alone share little in common with the qualities of a physical object, but the composition of all of the subatomic objects in a certain arrangement creates a perceivably unique object.

Under this notion of the mind, the relationship with the body becomes evident. The failing of our bodies, whether due to illness, age, or death, weakens or entirely eliminates the field effect. Additionally, anything that occurs to our body will have some degree of repercussion upon the field effect that is our mind. Because of this relationship, when we die our mind does not live on like a soul is believed to do, but instead the mind ceases to exist as the whole system of the body fails.

This makes our immortality less of an individual one, and rather manifested in our contributions to the world and other people in whatever form our talents allow.

Verification vs. Falsification

This is how verification works:

P -> Q

Q

Conclusion: P

Which commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

How falsification works:

P -> Q

-Q

Conclusion: -P

Sidesteps the fallacy.