What is meant when we use the word "truth"?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by charles brough, Apr 23, 2011.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In this case they are basing the assertion on very solid empirical evidence. Therefore it's reasonable to call the prediction "true beyond a reasonable doubt." It also must be taken in context, but we all share the same context so that is no problem. Obviously a plane could crash into any one of our houses tonight, so we would not get out of bed in the morning. If that happens, nobody is going to say, "Aha, you were lying!" It's unreasonable to expect a plane to crash through your roof since that only happens to one person in the entire country a few times per century, so the odds of it happening to any one individual on any given night are about one in half a trillion.
    No. It's Jungian psychology. For a rendering of much of Carl Jung's work into laymen's language, check out Joseph Campbell.
    The definition of an archetype is a motif--image, fear, ceremony, legend, etc., that occurs in nearly every human society in nearly every era. Since many archetypes clearly are survival traits, it's a reasonable hypothesis that the mechanism of their passage from one generation to the next is the DNA that directs the shaping of our synapses.
    The archetypes are remarkably consistent. This makes it less likely that they have been passed down through dozens or hundreds of generations by oral tradition--the "telephone game."
    All mammals and birds teach their young how to survive and prosper in the world. It's part of the parenting instinct.
    Humans have a unique area in our brains, the speech center, and we also have far more flexibility in our speech organs (tongue, lips, etc.) than most other mammals and birds, giving the speech center something to control. It's hard to diagram the brains of our ancestral species since soft tissue almost never fossilizes. But based on skull shape, zoologists have recently reached the conclusion that the Neanderthal brain also had a speech center. We'll probably never know about any of the ancestral hominids. Did speech develop because the speech center and vocal organs made it so easy? Or did early hominids struggle to speak and the brain center showed up as a random mutation which quickly selected the people who had it for a greater chance of survival?
    Given that "equal" and "wrong" are both value judgments, the assertions are more philosophical than zoological anyway.
    So what's wrong with "hunch" and "gut feeling"? We all know what those words mean and we already use them--at least in American English.
    Con men, psychologists, cops and diplomats are famous for being able to read what are called "tells." These include, for example, amount of eye contact and direction of crossing arms or legs. Con men and diplomats are also able to control their own responses and "lie" with their bodies.
    Psychologists often test these types of phenomena, and they don't always turn out to be as reliable as we give them credit for.
    That may be enough to satisfy you about "truth" as you make your way through daily life. But one of the key steps in the scientific method is peer review. Another person has to be able to repeat your experiment and get the same results. If you can't even explain why you feel a certain way, no one will be able to peer-review it.
    Again, we've been given a number of perfectly useful words already. Why can't you call it a hunch or a gut feeling like so many other people do?
    You haven't investigated the probability phenomenon sufficiently. Statistically, due to nothing more than random combinations of events, some people are going to be much luckier than others. If you toss a coin fifty times and it always comes up heads, this provides exactly zero evidence to predict the result of the next toss. So the same is true if you've always guessed right about decisions in your life. You were lucky many times in a row. This provides exactly zero evidence upon which to predict that you will be lucky the next time.
    The reason is that people are strongly swayed by coincidence. It is one of the most powerful forces in our lives.

    Stories of amazing strings of luck are well-known because they are so interesting, and also because they are so rare. Nobody ever tells or hears the story about the guy who won a hundred thousand dollars on ten spins of the roulette wheel, but then lost it all on the eleventh spin.
    I repeat, what's wrong with the words other people use?
    People like to appear certain to their friends and family. They think it makes them look smart and powerful. They'd rather say "I know my kid did it," than "I have a hunch my kid did it." But it's exactly the same hunch.
    That's a common enough turn of phrase.
    Most of us would probably assume that the person who says "believe" has a little more evidence than the person who says "hunch" or "gut feeling."
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  3. charles brough Registered Senior Member

    Really, I didn't think ANYONE would use the word to describe both faith-based doctrines from different religions that contradict each other. Wouldn't one at least be "false"?

    You are using the word "truth" in the old religion way. Does that way really seem logical to you or are you just stating how the faithful use the term?
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Oh. Then some people are neither mammals nor birds!

    And if they are philosophical, this makes them what? Woo-woo?

    They can't really be used in a formal or otherwise serious setting, such as a court of law or a job interview.

    So. Did you have your wife peer-reviewed?

    Only if Murphy is their god.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Well okay, there are folks who insist that people aren't "animals" at all.

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    I didn't mean to insult them, merely to say that they're a little outside the realm of the hard sciences. I suppose they fit into the soft science of psychology.
    I wouldn't object to someone using the word "hunch" if I were interviewing him. "Gut feeling" is a little cruder but I've heard managers use it in presentations.
    Well I guess I did actually. She did not pass. But I always had my doubts about that group of peers anyway.

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    I would put Murphy's Law at the opposite end of the spectrum from Argument From Coincidence. Murphy says that no matter how consistently the universe has been treating you, it will change abruptly some time when you're really depending on it.
  8. Xmo1 Registered Senior Member

    Truth is an ideal. You could probably reason without much effort that truth is a lie. Anyone want to play the reality game? Try the Catholic dictionary.
  9. weavers Registered Senior Member

    Hello Charles.
    Interesting topic that has turned out to be the progenitor of a multitude of frames of thought , this is good and acceptable!
    The sun is in the sky, this is acceptable.
    One day change will inevitably come, this is acceptable.
    The old man when he was young, liked to listen to old men, to glean from their wisdom, thoughts and ideas, he could agree on, and learn from that were beneficial and acceptable.
    1+1=2 This is acceptable.
    As alternative, its acceptable to say, acceptable at times juxtaposing it instead of always the default "true. " Cheers on your verbal quest!
  10. charles brough Registered Senior Member

    Yes, as you say, these are examples of what is acceptable as "true." They are practical. During the day, it is obvious the sun is in the sky, change inevitably does come, and 1 + 1= 2 is an abstraction that is obvious. In causes not involving the obvious, "truths" involve accuracy. "John is home" my be in degrees of accuracy. He just drove up and the car is crossing the sidewalk part of the driveway. Is he really home? The statement is less accurate than when and if he actually steps inside the house. Or, the sun is round. It is slightly pear shaped, but it is practicaly to consider it round. So, the statement is accurate, but not totally accurate. Nothing is, either, because there is an infinity of degrees of accuracy with which everything can be potentially understood.
  11. charles brough Registered Senior Member

    You seem to be saying that there are two truthful world-views, that of religion and that of science. I know this is a common belief, but if we look at the history of religion and the history of the social evolution of man's science and technology through the millenia, one wonders if you would classify the animistic beliefs common to man before about 10,000 years ago with modern monotheism or that what is now science to you would be regarded as such a half century or so from now. Myself, I take a social evolutionary prespective and recognize that both have become more accurate and will continue to do so in the future but there is no such thing as total, abstract truth in sense of world understanding or world-views. Indeed, that is why we refer to the theory of evolution. Scientists are continually making it more accurate. There is no finality to its "truth."
  12. charles brough Registered Senior Member

    Yes, these are "truths by definition." Also, clear observations and what is so accurate as to be practical to accept are all referred to as "truths." We use them to build both religions and science, both of which provide us with a world view and way of thinking intended to understand the world and ourselves. Those who have the religious view have one that provides security to people by being rigid and as far as possible unchanging. The other is man's unrelenting growth in understanding due to his constant efforts to improve the accuracy of his view of the world and himself.
  13. charles brough Registered Senior Member

    Yes, it is an ideal that the faithful believe they have achieved. The rest of us know better and recognize the need to keep improving the accuracy of what we believe. This is often referred to as "seeking the truth" but it is seekling an ideal we will never reach, foruntately. We will never understand ourselves and the universe totally. Thus, we will always have or at least need science.
  14. weavers Registered Senior Member

    Greeting and Salutations : Me-Ki-Gal and Charles brough

    We propose a hypotheses for the following :
    [ TRUE is equal to ACCEPTABLE ] and acceptable comes from the myriad of degrees of unprovable accuracies ,levels of which contribute to thought development regarding our species origins, belief processes and metal development leading to self understanding, as acceptable !

    We as creatures, evolving in the beginning knowledge-less, and as fearers of the unknown, looked to the heavens, looked to the stars, looked to the shamans, seers, thus, the need arose for leadership Articulators, in the form of good speech givers, to voice our concerns, over the mysteries that govern our destinies be!

    Along with Tribal Elders, whose trust in their intuitive wisdom, helped us as a communality, get our heads around the things we did not understand : The jungles, the sands, the animals, the temperature, the losses of life during record-breaking drought seasons, the disease, and death, and the sorrow it, upon us roth.
    We sought out what appears to us to be strong constructs, be they mystical, or astrological, or cultist, to define a basis of strength for mobile populations growth sustainability, out of which we needed as we do today, to find some sort of order out of the entropy, and this order be it mental, or physical, or spiritual without which we as a specie we would dissipate and falter. And this is not desirable!
    So big is the fear factor mentally in us, after all animals we be!
    We searched out, our selves for validation of ideas , our existence, and the idealic construction of, " a mental spine, " to fortify us physical, mentally and spiritually, to make ourselves feel stronger, be stronger, in the eyes of our offspring and the eyes of our community!

    And unto you we say, acceptable this be!

    To us , we are seekers of an foundational idealic substantiation that has many venues to make a tribe feel secure, in an unsecured world. Whether choices for example : be the mysticism as acceptable, or religiosity as acceptable, or the philosophical empericalogy as acceptable!
    A creature needs to feel safe, and in some manner, being looked after, by the forces that be, thus then biological code penchant DNA, was needed a creation of an integral forthcoming evolutionary need of 'The belief gene, 'now embedded in all humanity, thus distinguishing us from the lower intellectual animals.

    And this is acceptable!

    We use here, acceptable as a juxtaposition assignment equal to a truth that is practically allowing for expansion of contributions of insights, the progenitor of which is our curious selves which can improve upon the word acceptable to be more topic specific and flexibly expandable.

    The accuracy or lack of accuracy of primal animal beliefs were the forerunner of all sociology, technology and religiosity.
    The acceptance of The belief genes is acceptable, prerogatives the internal system to drives us!
    So, the statement is accurate, but not totally accurate due to lack of empirical substantiation as to date, but evolving conceptually in tandem with incremental human matureationalability as a specie, and this is acceptable.

    Please excuse us, for going tangential and not strictly adhering to [ philology ] the progenitor of which that inspired the debates about the use of the word true as default that is faulty !
    The statements contained here in, to say the least, are all over the place but somehow we hope it shows other alternatives for the word, [ true. ]
    Thanks again for such a mentally invigorating topic, seemingly born out a simple word [ true ] and we wish you patience and hope to resolve your intellectual quest, about the word true ,Charles Brough and we hope this to you is acceptable!

    Opinions cheerfully expressed, whether in consensus or in disagreement, help understanding and collaboration with one another! Peace Be with you .

    ScifForum : Attempting to explain the impossible
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Truth is the result of a logical thought process that is taken to a singular conclusion. Truth is similar to the result of a mathematical equation, which explains an effect, being reduced to a unique solution. Empirical can not lead to the truth, since it does not define a unique solution, but rather a range of solutions; fuzzy truth.

    For example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. One can make this correlation empirically, populating the preponderance of the data using observation that each human can do for verification. Although this relationships will satisify the empirical data requirement, it is not exactly true, since the sun is not moving.

    Although not fully truth, this partial truth can nevertheless lead to many practical applications. The practical applications, like sailing and using this for direction, may appear to make this correlation even more true, via collecting more and more data, but it is still partially true.

    To achieve the truth, you will need to leave the eyes behind and develop a more complete math logic, that shows the movement of the earth about the sun and the rotation of the earth, all of which may not be easy to observe with the eyes at same time. But through the math logic we can simulate this and come to the truth the earth is moving about the sun, making the sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west.

    Without a telescope and other modern data, the preponderance of the empirical data will make the world appear to be flat. One will need logic that can reduce to the truth that is the earth is round, such aslogical inference based on the motion of other planets. Empirical will treat each phenonena as a separate truth, waiting for logic to combine these partial truthes into a singular truth that mat change both.

    There is an old saying that Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, with wisdom leading to truth. This apparent irrationality leads to a rational approach, because god can not be proven empirically. In other words, if you assume this is true, the mind has to adapt to unproven assumption and will need an attachment to logic to make it work. If no assumes there is no truth to this, adaptation can remain empirical and relative.

    For example, say in middle ages someone told me the earth is round, when everyone knows and assumes it is flat due to the visual data. If I don't believe this round garbage, I can stick to the empirical observations, that everyone else sees. I can find security in the consensus.

    But if I accept the round earth as truth, I am cut off from the empirical data of the eyes, since what my eyes will see will conflict with my belief. I need to leave my eyes behind (sensory check) and think conceptually in my imagination, looking for other angles that will allow me to prove the earth is round, since the empirical will not be very helpful to this truth.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The animism of the Stone Age and the monotheism of the Iron Age share an irrational faith that can never be reconciled with the rational faith of the scientist.
    • The fundamental premise that underlies all science is that the natural universe is a closed system whose behavior can be predicted by theories derived logically from empirical evidence of its present and past behavior. The scientific method is recursive and this assertion has been tested aggressively and exhaustively for half a millennium without ever coming close to falsification. It has been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt (to borrow the language of the law since the language of science communicates very poorly with laymen). I.e, only an unreasonable person doubts it.
    • The fundamental premise that underlies all religion is that an illogical, invisible supernatural universe exists, from which creatures, forces and other less-clearly defined phenomena from time to time whimsically and often angrily perturb the behavior of the natural universe, so that it can never be confidently predicted. Since there has never been a shred of respectable evidence for this assertion, and since it claims to falsify science itself, it can be accurately labeled antiscience.
    Since the dawn of the Age of Science the world's religious leaders have been slowly giving ground on some of the details of their antiscientific world view, such as geocentrism and the six-day creation, but they have not and will never make the concession that would bring them over to the side of rationality: that there is, in fact, no supernatural universe. What ya see is what ya get.
    You continually try to convince us that you are a respectable scholar, yet you make a bonehead error in word usage that places you squarely in the camp of, not just laymen, but undereducated church-influenced American laymen???

    In the language of science, a theory is the highest level of truth. It is a hypothesis that has been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Evolution, like relativity, gravity, elementary particles and F=ma, has been so thoroughly vetted--supported by irrefutable evidence in two separate disciplines, paleontology and genetics--that it has become part of the canon of science. To gainsay it is not merely illogical, but, at least in the USA, clearly identifies the gainsayer as an antiscientific religionist--unless one heeds the Rule of Laplace and presents the extraordinary evidence to support such an extraordinary assertion, and no such evidence has ever been presented.

    Perhaps you are confused by the multiple ways in which the word "theory" is used. To a mathematician a theory is completely true, because his theories are derived from abstractions rather than the natural universe. To a police detective a theory is a hunch based on evidence and intuition, whose truth he attempts to prove. To a layman a theory is merely an explanation for a puzzling event that came to him over coffee.

    No scientist or scholar would make such a mistake in the use of the word. Once again, your credentials are called into question. You seem to be intelligent and articulate, but lacking a solid grounding in science.
    The "final truth" of evolution is that the lifeforms of one era evolve into the lifeforms of a later era. This is not in dispute. Note that the reasoning does not go in the opposite direction because of the singularity of the earliest lifeform; abiogenesis and evolution are two different phenomena.
  17. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Yes, it seems odd that the same human mind can develop science, which doubts, and religion, which believes without proof.

    Doubt was probably of little use in our past.
    After all, if you became a hunter, or later a farmer, you had to learn how to do those things.

    In the present day, doubt is also not much use if you are an apprentice plumber for example. You have to learn about pipes, pressures etc

    In a way, once you have accepted all the precepts of the plumbing trade, you are an acolyte, similar to a monk or priest.
  18. Hesperado Don't immanentize the eschaton Registered Senior Member

    ...the wood of the wind,
    a cliff, a fall,
    a scratch, a lump,
    it is nothing at all:
    It's the wind blowing free,
    it's the end of the slope,
    it's a beam, it's a void,
    it's a hunch, it's a hope --

    And the riverbank talks
    of the waters of March,
    it's the end of all strain,
    it's the joy in your heart...

    -- Antonio Carlos Jobim
  19. charles brough Registered Senior Member


    • FG, that is another of your typical posts. You make arrogant remarks as you peck, peck, and nit-pick over minor issues. I was trying to made the point that most people believe their scientific education presents a true picture of the world, universe and ourselves. I intended to make the point that it will mostly all be seen as false, even myth in the centuries to come and that the picture of ourselves, the world and the universe we had milleniums ago was also regarded as true even if no longer so. I use the Fundamentalists claim they have "the truth" but we in science have only "theory." Regardless of picky remarks, that is an accurate picture of their old-religion way of thinking and their use of the word. I say that the common way of old-religion usage could and eventually will be replaced by the concept that science advances by becoming more accurate.

      This is all typical of the way you deal with other people's posts here. You avoid the main point and attack significant generalizations by focusing only on the exceptions. You are very good at this but at the same time, it is distracting and unpleasant. You are acting like a professor grading pupil's reports while being both angry and depressed because of some domstic problem..:shrug:

      I am going into such detail in this response because it would be unfair not to explain to you why I no longer respond to your type of criticism. In my other forums I was able to put the warning in my signature, but I have not managed to do that in this forum. I have been able only to put it in my profile.

      I never use forum ignore lists.

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