On November 16, the Oxford Dictionary announced it had chosen “post-truth” as the 2016 Word of the Year. After Brexit, the recent US election and the increasingly isolated and polarized nature of online communities where fake news stories get equal play or better than the real ones (see: Buzzfeed Facebook Probe), the choice seems entirely appropriate. This forum has posted 13 articles on the difficulty of knowing what is true and an extended series on the challenges of being rational. So perhaps being “post-truth” is no big deal? Nothing could be further from the truth! We ignore true facts of our experience, our science, and our spiritual teachings at our peril. The fate of the world, and the fate of our souls, hangs in the balance.
Imagine 100 monkeys typing (presumably randomly) on 100 typewriters for a limitless period of time: Eventually, hidden somewhere in the seemingly endless streams of nonsense, they would produce all of the works of Shakespeare. This popular thought experiment has been around for more than a century (longer than typewriters!) and demonstrates interesting features of both randomness and infinity. It is a useful starting point for discussing unique problems now being encountered with large data sets.
My nephew Cody and his wife Natalie began a food blog called the Gantzery about a year ago focused on healthy and nutritious recipes, but with a strong personal flavor. It often contains interesting philosophical remarks. This week, these remarks asked about one’s “personal lens” in how we approach the world in the search for knowledge and understanding, and it inspired some deep personal reflection. What is my lens? My Big TOE!
Photo courtesy of The Gantzery. (more…)
A simple problem – what is the shortest route for visiting a number of different cities – is extraordinarily difficult and may become impossible as the number of cities rises. If you can show that any “NP Complete” problem can be solved in a reasonable amount of time (“P”) you can win $1Million, as this is one of the seven “Millennium Problems” in mathematics that the Clay Foundation has offered a cash prize for solving. Personally, I doubt the NP Complete problems can be solved in P time – and I believe that their intractability demonstrates a hard stop to what we can “figure out”. (more…)
On May 2, 2011, about 20 participants joined a lively discussion on the difficult question of how we determine that something is “true”. This included an exploration of gaps in the ability of science and math to prove beyond doubt that something is true, and reflections on whether science and religion are distinct areas of inquiry or whether there are ways these spheres of understanding can inform and support each other. Many topics for potential future consideration were identified. (more…)
In the previous discussion of solipsism, we avoided the abyss of pure skepticism by being willing to accept evidence that other people exist, even without an “absolute” proof. Where do we derive our awareness of others and the distinction between “self” and “other” – and what are the implications of this self-reflection? This is a really big question with implications for sentience, consciousness, and even the foundations of logic. (more…)
When I was a kid, my older brother used to tease me with questions that were beyond my understanding. One line of questioning I recall went like this – How do you know other people exist? Maybe you are dreaming. Maybe it’s all a movie in your brain and there is nobody there? How do you really know? (more…)
Dealing with truth can be tricky. Some interesting resources are listed below, all of which provide important insights. (more…)
May 2 – What is Truth? – On May 2, about 20 participants joined a lively discussion on the difficult question of how we determine that something is “true”. This included an exploration of gaps in the ability of science and math to prove beyond doubt that something is true, and reflections on whether science and religion are distinct areas of inquiry or whether there are ways these spheres of understanding can inform and support each other. Many topics for potential future consideration were identified.
The presentation and discussion was led by George Gantz, the series Director. A Synopsis is posted in the Forum Discussions under The Nature of Truth. The session was recorded and is available on New Church audio at this link.
This ISAS live discussion session was held at the Harvey Wheeler Community Center at 1276 Main St., Concord, Massachusetts, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM.