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How can we know, if at all, when we have
discovered or created truth?

Charlie Ma


There are two requirements for something to be the truth. The truth is always shaped in the form of a statement. Neither "Blue" nor "What is the color of Bob's shirt?" can be the truth since neither are a statement. "The color of Bob's shirt is blue" can be the truth since it exists in the form of a statement. A fact is a truthful statment. The second qualification is that the truth must be supported with relevent information. Fictional events, such as fairytales or dreams are not nessesarily relevent to events in reality, for example. If someone existed in a simulated world, then reality to them would be the simulation. He can only derive truth for the simulated world, and not other worlds which he does not knowledge of. What may be true under one condition may be false under another. Conclusions not derived from reality are not the truth in reality. Some truths are exclusive. If Bob is five years old, he cannot also be ten years old. Some truths are not exclusive to only one truth. Bob can both "enjoy eating ice cream", and "enjoy swimming." One truthful statement does not eliminate the possibility of other truths. The question "what does Bob enjoy" can have multiple answers which are all truthful.

Absolute truth does not exist. The foundation of truth are other truths. For example "this glass contains cola" is a truth derived from three other truths: "cola beverage containers originally contain cola", "the contents of the beverage container has not been altered", and that "the glass contains the contents of the beverage container." Each of the three statements (deemed as truths) themselves are derived from other statements (also deemed as truths). Each of the truths are supported by the other three truths. Truth does not begin, branch off and end like a tree. There is no fundamental truth from which all other truths are derived from. Unlike Euclidean geometry where everything comes from combinations of the five initial premises, truth is the functions of other truths. There are loops of truth which are connect to each other in a series with no start or end. For example:

If: Then: Then: Then:
A) 1 + 1 = 2
B) 2 + 2 = 4
C) 4 - 1 = 3
D) 1+1+1+1 = 4 (A&B)
E) 2+2-1 = 3 (B&C)
F) 4-2 = 3-1 (A&C)
G) 1+1+1 = 3 (A&E)
H) 3-1 = 2 (B&F)
I) 4-2 = 1+1+1-1 (D&F)
1 + 1 = 2 (G&H)
2 + 2 = 4 (G&I)
4 - 1 = 3 (H&I)

The mathematical equation is supported by previous equations (noted in the brackets). Equation E is supported by equations B and C, for example. The data in the first colum matches the data in the last colum, indicating that the equations prove themselves. The truthfulness of each equation is dependent upon the other equations. Assuming the equations were all validly proven, then if any equation are proved to be false, then the web would be broken and all the equations would thefore be false. Truth is composed of limitless relations of other truths, each one of which is also composed of limited relations of other truths.

All statements are related, some more directly than others. The basic premises of math such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are clearly connected to all quantatative sciences such as physics. It is less directly connected to anthropology which contains a large portion of psychology, which contains a large portion of biology, which contains a large portion of chemistry, which contains a large portion of physics, which contains a large portion of math. This connection is just one example of an indrect relationship. A disproved theory in math could mean changes in other fields, including a new way of comparing cultures.

To examin the absolute truthfulness of any one statment requires examining the truthfulness of all other statments (from the past, present and future). Since it is impossible to know everything at any instant, it is impossible to know if statements are absolutely truthful. Statements can only be deemed truthful based on the probability that it is actually truthful based on the information available. Labeling a staement as truthful is the same as labeling a statement as probabily truthful. The differences between truths are the degree of certainty, or the probability of the the statement being true. This is analogus to the social anthropologist who study culture. In athropology, statements are comparative instead of absolute. Malinowski's ethnography on the Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea stated that females were subordinate to the males. Weiner's ethnography on the Trobrianders stated that females dominate over males. Neither ethnographers were lying since both their conclusions were derived from information they were conscious aware of. They both had different versions of the truth, which are both valid. The statement "females dominate over males in Trobriander society" cannot be true or false alone since absolute truth does not exist. While studying the Trobrianders, they each discovered a different truth since they both have different opinions.

Though it may appear that true has multiple possibilities even for exclusive truth, that is not the case. Probability plays an important role. Suppose a salesman told Bob that a speaker can produce noise at 20hz, and Bob tells Cathy the same statement. If Bob believed the statment is most likely to be true when he told Cathy, then he said the truth to her. If Bob believed the statment was probably false, then he did not told her the truth. The statement: "Bob's computer is powered by eletricity" is true because it is the most probable answer. It could really be powered by microwave signals from an alien spaceship orbiting the planet. To the occupants in the spaceship, the statement is false since they have more information. To Bob, the statement is the truth since he is unaware of any spaceships orbiting the planet. The truths are more clearly stated as "To Bob on that day, his computer is powered by eletricity" and "To the aliens on that day, Bob's computer is powered by a microwave feed." It is important to include "to him, at that time" within the statement since the absolute truth of what powers his computer can never be discovered. It is possible that the aliens fooling Bob may themselves be fooled by a third party. To each party involved, the truth is different.

Only the probable truth for any one person at any instant exists. Since new probable truths are continually discovered, the probability of any general statement being true will continually change. Probable truth has three components: The person who evaluates the truthfulness, the time of the evaluation, and the statement he evaulates. "To Bob at 15:30 on Friday the seventh, 1999, electrons were negative subatomic particles" is one example. Truth is a constant specific to each person, at each instant. When all three variables are implemented, the truthfulness remain the same. The trufullness of the statement "to Bob at 15:30 on Friday the seventh, 1999, electrons were negative subatomic particles" remains constant regarless of all other factors. The truthfulness only changes when any of the three variables are changed.

Since absolute truth does not exist, it is not possible to discover or create it. No one can know if they discovered or created absolute truth because it would never happen. Probable truth however, can be created or discovered. It is also possible to know if probable truth is discovered. When a statement is generated, it is possible to know if it is probably true or false. After analyzing relevant information, the probability can be determined. The process of analyzing will largely involve studying how the probable truth was derived, and the reliability of both the supporting statements which led to the discovery as well as statements which contradict the statement. If the statement is probably true, then truth was created. For example, Napoleon Chagnon discovered that Yanomanö prefers to solve problems through war instead of peaceful diplomacy. This is supported by several points.

Supporting statements Reliability Support
Chagnon witnessed several wars, as well as heard of many other wars. Reliable since Chagnon is a competent researcher who is not known to intentionally lie. Makes the statment more probable to be true by adding support
Chagnon rarely witnessed or heard of peaceful diplomatic ways to end conflicts. Reliable since Chagnon is a competent researcher who is not known to intentionally lie. Makes the statment more probable to be true by adding support

When relevent information have been adequatly analyzed, a conclusion can be drawn regarding whether or not the statement is probably true. In the example, Chagnon's statement is probably truth, and thus he created probable truth.

Although absolute truth can never be found, the probable truth can. Using the process of analyzing evidence supporting and contradicting the statement, we can determine if any statement is probably true, as well as the degree of probability. With this information, whether or not truth was created or discovered can be found.

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