Enlightened Conflict

come to an entirely erroneous conclusion my dear Watson

June 9th, 2017

conclusion header facts truth



“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>





“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




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








“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.”



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.




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.”


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.




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.




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.


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.


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.




“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




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.”




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



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




Lillian Hellman




    “Truth itself is an emergent distinction.

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



Peter Joseph




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


Brad Meltzer





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.




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.




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.


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



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.




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.




“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



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.




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.



“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



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.




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



Ahlam Mosteghanemi




telling someone the truth (and aún aprendo)

February 22nd, 2014



“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of tell the truth society ofsilence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” 



Czesław Miłosz







This is partially about me and partially about how I feel about telling someone the truth. And, maybe, just simply about communicating truth.




And the fact that truth can often not only sound like a pistol shot … but feel like you have been shot.


And because it is partially about me, and truth, I will begin with the infamous Michelangelo quote … said at age 87 I may add:



    aún aprendo

<I am still learning>





Please note Michelangelo said this in Latin and the one above is in Spanish.



I am humbly in good company.doing the right thing bravery


Because I am forever ‘still learning.’


At the same time I am still telling someones <anyone I can> the truth.


Personally I believe they are related.

Telling the truth and constantly learning. And I imagine I tell everyone that because therein lies some of the issue in telling the truth.





Why write about this now?



I have received enough emails about some things I have written lately that I wanted to explain why I think what I think … what I think about what I write … and how I think about truth and sharing truth <versus opinions>.




I have never been one for blowing smoke up someone’s ass <as well as I have always wondered what that phrase meant>. And this attitude extends not only to things that I say … but when I see & hear other’s blowing smoke up someone’s ass <particularly if they are doing it simply to make a buck>.




This attitude of mine has most likely not helped me in the business world. But in personal Life it has most likely established me as a ‘stand up guy.’ Kind of a nice alternative version of some degree of integrity.


I can live with that.




I started here with this sharing of thoughts because while I think most life coaches are simply snake oil salesmen, The Secret is a bunch of tripe, formulas for success are anything but successful and trying to figure out how to emulate greatness will lead you to somewhere other than something great … I believe people need to do whatever they need to do to get their head on straight to move forward in Life.


I write about stuff sometimes simply because I want to take as many blinders off as I can <I often do this under the nomenclature of ‘enlightening’>. I do this because I think if people could see Life a little more clearly see what we look for… without bullshit and smoke & mirrors … well … living Life is just not that complicated.




Life hurts some times.


Life feels great at others.



There are some valleys … and sometimes those valleys can get pretty deep & dark.


There are some peaks … and boy it is nice & bright & warm when you are there.


All that said.


When I see smoke … I try and blow it away.


Do I ever wonder if avoiding telling the truth to keep from hurting someone’s feelings is a better path?


Sure I do.



I believe any <and all> ‘truth teller’ has twinges of angst … all the time.


If they didn’t … they wouldn’t really be a truth teller … they would simply be opinionated fools <if not arrogant assholes>.


Comfort with honesty and speaking the truth for what it is … this version of candor … is a responsibility one assumes if you choose his path.


I would like to think it is an honorable path wherein we avoid the perils of false flattery or mistaken confidence in some special secret to Life <of which there is none>.




First … I have found that truth actually begins with being honest with yourself.


This may seem unusual given that I am speaking about telling the truth to others … but I tend to believe until you can be honest about your own weaknesses or share of the blame or biases… and even recognize your own ignorance <and can accept there is infinite to learn> you risk communicating a false truth which simply covers up your own lack of … well … something. Suffice it to say if you are not honest with yourself I sincerely doubt you can be accepted as honest to someone else.


And all that self reflection kind of suggests a self truth … being honest with ‘self’ is about knowing … and accepting … yourself … that includes the good and the bad.


And that also means accepting that ‘I am still learning’ is nonstop until your last day.


I tend to believe that this self reflection means that you are not only less likely to try to conform to other people’s expectations opinions but probably also lessens the need to lie at all.


The truest of true benefits of thinking <and acting> this way is consistency.


People already know what they can expect from you.tell truth frustrating




“As long as they’re telling the truth, and saying the things that you don’t ever want to have to say to another human being.”

Mark Ruffalo




Expectations becomes very very important because in the end a truth teller is weaving their way through … well … truth <note I did not say lies>.


In fact most truth tellers are doing their best to separate the truths into hard truths and soft truths … big truths and small truths … the truths that matter and the truths that don’t matter all that much.


And then deciding whether the more soft truths, the small truths, and the truths that don’t matter all that much … are not so important that they must be said.


And also deciding whether the hard truths, the big truths, and the truths that matter … are important enough that keeping them silent is actually a detriment to truth itself.


Anyway. That sounds painful when I reread it.


The real question becomes must painful truths always be told?




Surely not.tell the truth run



We always need to realize that you don’t always have to tell someone the truth if it will be painful. Sometimes, with an acquaintance or friend, when no harm will come to them, you can omit something or tell a smaller truth. I call this ‘no harm, no foul.’


On the other hand.


I have also learned to not beat around the bush and talk about a lot of other things first if you are actually going to tell the truth.


It only makes other people perceive that something’s wrong with what you are saying … and worse? That maybe you are not telling the truth.




Get to the point. The truth is the truth.


Find a positive if there is any … unwrap it from all the bullshit … and lay it bare.


Ah. That ‘point.’ Some people call a ‘bare truth’ the painful truth.





I don’t know.


I call it bare truth because it isn’t smothered in smoke.


While the bare truth may be stripped of any gray … it bears the burden of vivid colors and the sense of a sharpened knife swiftly moving toward you.


Paradoxically … this moment of truth often seems to slow time.


And, in that slow moment, the truth laid bare leaves the truth teller as unprotected as much as it may have opened up a wound in the receiver.


For telling someone the truth bears the burden of permitting the receiver<s> to respond … to ask questions.

This is the only way to even have a chance to come to terms with reality as a bare truth.


I know everyone says to be as specific as possible.



Here is the trouble with that.



Or ‘the gray.’ When discussing intangibles there is often no clear black & white.

So how do you specifically describe gray?


You cannot.


truth speakYou can only unequivocally state there is no hidden ulterior motive … that truth benefits them <even in just hearing it … even if they don’t accept or take action>.



Speaking of baring things.

Truth has a nasty habit of reflecting the fact most times, in speaking truth, you are rummaging around in someone’s life <personal or business … oh … which is personal too …> digging for the painful truth beneath some what is usually some fairly lovely <or attractive> lies.



I imagine that telling someone the truth is like most things … balance.

You have to recognize that the piece of truth you have pulled out while rummaging in someone’s life is a gift you uncovered … and it is not something that was owed you or given simply because you are someone who ‘tells the truth’.


As someone wrote … “on any given day I’d much rather be hit with ‘the hammer of truth’ than ‘the feather duster of truth’.”


Painful or not at the end of the day the truth is the truth … and most people much rather live a painful truth than a comfortable lie.tell the truth respect



Telling someone the truth has often got me in trouble.

Trouble in that the ‘pistol shot of truth’ doesn’t just lay bare truth … it ultimately is a bullet to kill what someone believes … or hope … or just has a strong feeling about.

Therein lies the pain.


Killing something is no less painful than being killed <in this case>.


Here is the thing about being a truth teller and willing to tell someone the truth.


If you have any soul or any desire to be good at it … you just … well … keep learning. Learning new things about the world … and maybe more importantly … about yourself.

“… if you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler. A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than 100 years of introspection.”


You travel places or travel through knowledge and absolutely travel through ideas and thinking.

You know what traveling where no one knows you also teaches you?


We are all learning.

We are all pretty much doing the best we can.

We are all work in progress.


It’s good to keep this in mind in telling the truth.listen hand

All you can really do is … well … two things actually … listen & learn:



“The best decisions come from listening to ourselves”.




Listen to yourself.




aún aprendo



I am still learning.


What more could anyone ask of a truth teller. Truth rarely resides in the absolutes. In resides in the learning.


Telling the truth.

Like a pistol shot.

Enlightened Conflict