Enlightened Conflict

come to an entirely erroneous conclusion my dear Watson

June 9th, 2017

conclusion header facts truth

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“I had,” he said, “come to an entirely erroneous conclusion, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data.”

 

Sherlock Holmes

<The Adventure of the Speckled Band>

 

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“When we get better understanding or the facts or evidence don’t agree with the theory we must change the theory and change course.””

 

Sherlock Holmes

 

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“… when you hear hoof beats behind you don’t expect a zebra.”

 

proverb

 

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So.

 

“I believe” may be two of the most dreaded word you can hear in today’s world.

i believe hand writingThose two words may be this century’s version of throwing down a gauntlet or challenging someone to a duel.

 

“I believe” has been bastardized in today’s world to actually mean “I know” <but people have convinced themselves if they soften it with ‘I believe’ people will think they are more open to listening and true discussion>.

 

Facts matter. And they matter a shitload not only with truth but in the battle between I know and I believe.

 

The problem is that while facts are facts … two facts can coexist in the pursuit of “I know.”

 

Shit.

The truth is that … well … truth , the unequivocal kind, is most likely borne of let’s say 8 facts <I made that number up> coexisting … which when arranged into a pattern make up an unequivocal truth.

 

This means unequivocal truth … or let’s call it good solid “I know” is made up of a puzzle of facts … not just one fact or even two.facts conclusion truth think

 

The practice of Truth is actually a profession of facts.

 

Using legalese for binding of contracts … by means of facts, truths are created and beliefs come into existence. Yet, in spite of all good intentions, the meanings of individual facts are not always clear and unequivocal. They may be capable of being understood in more ways than one, they may be doubtful or uncertain, and they may lend themselves to various interpretations by different individuals.

 

Following that thought … this means, when differences in understanding are not resolvable, divides in “beliefs” occur and dysfunction, in terms of lack of progress, occurs.

 

Once again, in legal terms, this is called “ambiguity.”

 

void delicious ambiguityParadoxically enough, the word ambiguity itself has more than one interpretation.

 

The general meaning has to do with how things are said, the words that are used, by someone and how those words are understood.

 

Ambiguity occurs where the two are not in alignment. The lack of alignment actually springs back upon the facts themselves in a vicious way — the fact itself comes into doubt.

 

Sigh.

 

But facts are facts. The problem isn’t about the fact but rather most truths are more complex than one fact. Unequivocal truth is grounded in … well … 8 facts <once again, I picked 8 out of the air but you get the point>.

 

This problem gets compounded by how people elect to actually use facts.

 

Using my 8 let me tell you what I mean. The expert, the most knowledgeable, array of facts truth findingwill stack up the 8 facts from top to bottom in order of priority … but all relevant to making and truth unequivocal.

 

 

 

Then we, the non-experts, get in the game.

 

Some of us use the highest priority fact … and that is all.

 

Some grab the facts we want in the order we want and create the truth we want.

 

Some may actually use the 8 but decided to prioritize them in a different order.

 

All are using facts. Most are using them improperly or in an incomplete way. And, inevitably, 90%+ end up with an “I believe” and not an “I know” stand.

 

I know. I know. We all wish truth could be easier and, in fact, many people flippantly suggest truth is simple <or simpler than we make it out to be>.

 

Here is what I know about that. Using the thought I used upfront in this piece “… when you hear hoof beats behind you don’t expect a zebra.”

Well.

An expert, maybe a horse trainer, could hear the hoof beats and tell you with 95% confidence the breed, the weight and the type of horse coming up behind you. The dreamer will suggest it could be a unicorn. The pragmatic will narrow it down to a horse, zebra, antelope or some 4 hoofed animal.

truth facts numbers understand question

Truth is less than simple and more in need of facts than we like to admit.

 

Yes.

 

The trouble with unequivocal truth is that it usually takes ‘one more step than you think’ to get there. Unfortunately, the truth about this is most of us don’t make it there.

 

We stop short.

And I tend to believe most of us know we are stopping short. We like the facts that we have but we, at the same time, know there are most likely some more out there that could be useful. We have 3 or 4 and decide the remaining 4 or 5 are just not that necessary. I guess we bank on the fact if we stop short we have at least grabbed the top 3 or 4 most important facts in an unequivocal truth.

 

Yikes.

 

Dangerous thought.normalizing behavior light matches flame fire danger

 

It’s dangerous in believing we have the most important ones of the ones we decided is enough but possibly even more dangerous is that we confuse an unequivocal truth for a simple “I believe” thought.

 

It is dangerous because “I believes” tend to reside in the negative space. Huh? If you only snag 4 of the 8 necessary facts the debate can never be resolved as the back & forth ends up in the blank spaces around the discussion. Truth is constructed more often by what was not found than what was found <look at what I didn’t point out versus what I did point out> – that is negative space truth.

Uhm.

That is not unequivocal truth.

 

In fact … it poisons the unequivocal truths in a misdirection of specious comparisons.

 

I would suggest that more of us should pay attention to negative space.

Why?

Negative space is usually indicative that a fact is missing. 99% of negative space can be filled with a fact <if only we looked hard enough for it>.

 

All that said.

 

Truth is the axis munid … the dead center of the earth.

 

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“the person who pretends to not see the truth is committing something much worse than a mortal sin, which can only ruin one’s soul – but instead committing us all to lifetimes of pain. The truth is not just something we bring to light to amuse ourselves; the truth is the axis munid, the dead center of the earth.

facts results truth conclude

When it’s out of place nothing is right; everyone is in the wrong place; no light can penetrate.

 

Happiness evades us and we spread pain and misery wherever we go.

Each person, above all others, has an obligation to recognize the truth and stand by it.”

 

—–

Jacque Silette

 

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I believe, no, I know the world would be a better place if more of us took that thought seriously. Because if we did than maybe we wouldn’t stop short of the unequivocal truth destination. Maybe we wouldn’t settle for an “I believe” thought and confuse it with a real “I know” thought. And maybe if we did there would be less discussion of alternative facts and more discussion about unequivocal truths on which we could center ourselves on.

 

“I had,” he said, “come to an entirely erroneous conclusion, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data.”

 

Geez.

 

If Sherlock Holmes says that sure as shit more of us should be saying it <and I conclusion tired of thinking ideadon’t think we are>.

 

 

Unequivocal truth exists.

 

They exist as surely as Santa Claus <yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus >.

 

We just have to want to get there and not be satisfied by stopping short and feeling good about the facts we gathered … short of the ones we need to reach unequivocal.  I don’t know that 8 facts create an unequivocal truth is the right formula but I sure as shit believe it is on the right path to getting there.

 

 

unpleasant way of saying the truth

July 30th, 2016

 cynicism unpleasant way of speaking truth

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“Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.”

 

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Lillian Hellman

 

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    “Truth itself is an emergent distinction.

It’s not a noun; it’s more of a verb.”

 

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Peter Joseph

 

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“… tell them there’s a cost … every decision we make in life, there’s always a cost.”

 

Brad Meltzer

 

 

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truth nobody is right wrong life societyNobody’s right.

 

Nobody’s wrong.

 

Conversely … I imagine that means someone is always right … or is always wrong.

 

What a fucked up world that would be.

 

Uhm.

 

It sometimes seems like we are close to that world today. And if we are … well … there is always a cost.

 

The cost?

 

Right or wrong … any statement made … even when sensible and accurate from both a moral and leadership perspective … pays a price in the current societal climate. Statements get parsed word by word scrutinized & tortured to a point where someone will say anything to stop the pain.

 

I have stated before that it is a tough time for truth tellers.

 

The climate, to me, is becoming one of steadfast unequivocal semi-truths where someone refuses to admit truth is rarely simple and complexity is rarely viewed as something to be embraced … not to be discarded as ‘silly political correctness.’ The current information climate sometimes embraces a contrary opinion as a viable reason to not accept a majority expert analysis as an accepted truth.

 

I imagine what I am suggesting is that even truth is being challenged by a divisive society.

 

“Nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Only one thing is right, and that is the Truth, but nobody knows what it is. It is a thing that changes all the time, and then comes back to the same thing.”

Lin Yutang

 

Divisiveness not only makes truth an unpleasant discussion but makes communicating truth excruciatingly unpleasant.

 

Now.

 

This divisiveness can very easily, and actually DOES, lead to true ‘truth abuse.’gg cyber house divided

 

And just as with anything that gets abused or when someone decided to play by different rules … it can become quite tempting to start adopting others habits, attitudes & behaviors under the guise of ‘leveling the playing field.’

 

 

Some people’s abuse of truth is no excuse for all people to abandon the use of truth – overall or for one truth.

 

Here is a Life truth.

 

Truth does not reside on an uneven playing field. It resides on one field which is level and lined with uneraseable boundaries.

Sure.

There may be exceptions in which truth may reside close to the margins … exceptions where being righteous toward some meaningful ends permits truth to be placed right on the out of bounds line itself. But you will find the ‘truth abusers’ almost always argues that their particular truth fits within the margins.

 

Let’s be clear.

 

Everyone who disagrees with something you say or believe … is not stupid.

 

In fact … suggesting so, or even suggesting that agreement of opposing views <with a bigger vision in mind> is wrong shows lack of intellectual depth.

 

 

James A. Garfield:

“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

 

 

But maybe the issue isn’t truth but the inability to be able to tell the difference between truth and fiction.

 

I can honestly say I am not sure if I am a cynic, a realist or simply a cynical optimist <hope undergirds just about anything I believe and do>.

divide offen right opinion speech

Now.

 

I clearly understand that there is often a fine line between that realism and cynicism just as I understand there is sometimes a fine line between contrarianism and … well … crackpotism.

 

But here is the deal <the truth as it were>.

 

I read somewhere ‘going thru life avoiding the truth is no way to live.’

Maybe no truer words said.

But what may be even worse? “going thru Life with no truth is no way to live.”

 

I struggle to think of a more unpleasant world than one in which we have no accepted truths.

 

Or a world in which we have no accepted truth tellers.

And by that last thought I mean the real truth tellers … the ones who do not appeal to one group or another … but rather the truth teller who can speak, speak even the unpleasant truths, and all audiences accept it.

 

All of that said leads me back to the opening quote in which cynicism and truth are inextricably linked.

 

Personally I believe a thread of cynicism is healthy. It grounds you enough to insure you don’t become infatuated by the lure of some fantastical untruth which may seem appealing … as well as it insure you put real truths to the grindstone of rigorous logic.

 

But if you accept this thought. This thought that we should all carry around a little cynicism. Well. that creates some challenges to a truth teller. It suggests that telling the truth will almost always have some aspect of unpleasantness.

 

I could argue that the unpleasantness is grounded in the necessary work it should take to rationalize & energize real truth … but … to someone telling the truth <a real truth> in their heart of hearts it kind of feels like it shouldn’t take that much work.

 

Look.

 

truth victim of tolerance unpleasant

 

We should not tell the truth only when truth is needed. We should tell the truths all the time. That is how truth wins over semi truths and made up truths and actual no truths.

 

And while truth tellers must try to get the truth across in a respectful way … they must also accept that truth, in general, almost always has a slightly unpleasant taste when fed to someone.

 

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“The choice to give up bitterness is not easy, but it is simple: peace or poison.

And don’t wait until you feel like making it. You never will.”

 

Brent Weeks

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Truth has never been an easy concept.

 

Some could even argue that people, in general, are quite happy with a robust portion of Truth being fairly malleable.

 

Regardless.

 

Despite the fact we often bemoan the fact that people are too accepting of what they hear and don’t utilize the internet to research their own beliefs … we can’t expect every individual to always fact-check, question and investigate every single statement or bit of information ever encountered.

 

People will always take some shortcuts and it is silly to think people will not.

 

In the good ole days the shortcuts were leaders, the authority and a range of experts. Nowadays that shortcut is … well … the wisdom of the crowd.’ If a sufficient number of information outlets, or people, confirm something … well … then many of us began to believe it was acceptable to believe it.

 

The downside of ‘wisdom of the crowd’ is that it comes at the expense of ‘the wisdom of the leader/expert.’

 

The ‘crowd wisdom’ seems to suggest that a sufficiently large crowd <of non-experts> can be at least as accurate as a small number of expert authorities. This all gets exacerbated by the fact social media has a natural ability to aggregate a subjectively “sufficient large crowd” to solidify a belief.

 

Obviously this faulty logic <crowds do not invariably gain wisdom but rather simply coalesce around a belief – whether that belief is truth or not>.

 

But crowds of likeminded people are like gravity. It feels like a natural law even if it is difficult to prove. And the outcome of this ‘natural law feeling’ is that it contributes to an unjustified, exaggerated distrust in experts who reside somewhere outside this particular crowd.

 

But here is where truth tellers really end up in a really unpleasant space.

 

In the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ no one contradicts me in good faith … any opponent to what I believe must be lying … anyone must have been corrupted by someone or something <therefore are corrupt in some way>… and they must be ‘a lesser version of me & my crowd’ <if not actually some version of a degenerate>.

 

Rereading all of that … well … truth is an unpleasant business.

 

And that is where cynicism comes back into the conversation. While a truth teller sees truth as good and positive they need to recognize that truth is more often going to be viewed as … well … bad news.

 

I say that because bad news is always unpleasant … and therefore a bearer of bad news always has to think about the unpleasant way of saying the truth.

 

Good truth tellers, the ones with a strong moral compass, recognize the presence of the inner cynic in everyone and the fact it is difficult to keep its influence from … well … influencing how one thinks & acts.

 

Good truth tellers, the ones with unequivocal integrity, recognize the crowd’s more hardened inner cynicism and the fact that whatever good news they bear will be bad news to the cynical.

truth people hate

Good truth tellers recognize it is not easy to tell the truth, in fact, it may even be unpleasant … and they take the extraordinary efforts necessary to address the inner cynicism from day one.

 

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“People are stupid.

They think the truth is so easy to know or tell.

All you can do is your best in the circumstances. “

—–

Comment in The Guardian

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People are not stupid. I am fairly positive that all people really desire is truth.

And that is a fair desire.

 

But because truth is rarely simple … in addition … the world offers only fairly complex circumstances in which to tell the truth.

 

All this means is that for the foreseeable future … truth telling is going to be unpleasant.

 

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“Don’t trust the beginnings, truth is told in the last moments.”

 

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Ahlam Mosteghanemi

 

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Enlightened Conflict