As part of his Great Culling Project, mariner was thumbing through an old college book about philosophy when he came across the word ‘epistemology’. The definition from a philosophy book reads: Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge.
It occurs to mariner that the lack of knowing real truths is a serious problem today when millions of voters believe, despite all evidence, that the election was stolen, that vaccines are dangerous, and that a secret group of child predators rule the world from the basement of a pizza parlor, it becomes clear that we cannot afford to ignore how knowledge is formed and distorted. We are living through an epistemological crisis. To avoid using philosophical jargon, mariner substitutes the word ‘truth’ to mean knowledge and the study of knowledge (epistemology).
It seems how to know truth should be a class in high school along with civics and ethics; it seems all three of these topics would provide a core set of tools with which to survive in a society which, at this moment of massive change in global culture, is foundering. It occurs to mariner that his distrust of the electorate stems from its disregard for these subjects but he will focus on truth.
It seems logical to say that there can be only one truth but this is not so. Even one household cannot agree on what is true. Even learning the same set of hard facts will not eliminate opinion – a form of truth subject to individual attitudes and circumstances. What must be agreed upon is what source represents the closest definition of generic truth from which everyone can draw an opinion.
An excellent example today is the conflict between Donald and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Donald’s source of truth lay deep in his mind and is extremely self-perceived. The CDC is comprised of professional, career-long medical professionals who are experts at managing medical truth and applying it to a nation’s circumstances. The false perceptions that Donald’s followers believe are, in fact, true if Donald is the agreed upon source of generic truth.
Keeping this treatise short, everyone should learn to identify what provides generic truth without bias from other self-righteous sources; this is a simple tool everyone should learn in high school. Mariner’s focus on how the brain makes decisions is his own effort at defining truth between subconscious emotional truth and the conscious truth of external reality.
Those who are wise when buying automobiles know that the car salesman has his own set of truths which likely are self-righteous in nature. The wise car buyer will investigate independent, generic resources to use as a guide. How can we teach the electorate to practice this method with admittedly more complex social, political and economic issues? A classic observation from an Axios newsletter:
“The Texas power failure is the latest in a series of disasters that will be harder to fix — or prevent from happening again — because Americans are retreating to partisan and cultural corners instead of trying to solve problems.”