interest, interest 2018

Reaching the Truth

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By Sean

In these times of rampant faux journalism and blatant falsehoods masquerading as news, it seems necessary to rely on cold, hard facts, untainted by the bias and opinions of humans, in order to discover the “truth”. This may prove a futile effort, however, as the growing global interconnectivity afforded by the Internet necessitates the gathering and comprehension of vast amounts of information and evidence to remain well-informed on current affairs and understand the truth about them.

This leads to an unfortunate dilemma. The amount of information that the average person should be expected to know is no longer sufficient to maintain a holistic perspective of a situation. Yet journalists, whose job it is to gather this information, are often biased despite their duty to provide a purely factual synthesis and conclusion. It seems that it is near impossible for an ordinary person to fully comprehend the scope of current affairs.

Ironically, it may be our own incessant desire to reach the truth that prevents us from approaching it.

A parallel can be drawn between truths of current affairs and scientific truths. There is a growing problem within the scientific community of experimental results being non-reproducible, calling into question their validity. When a hypothesis is formed as part of the scientific method, it is then tested by experiment — but in many cases, the experiment aims to prove the hypothesis right. Any negative results, which can be just as useful as positive results, are rejected. In academia, the financial issues with conducting an experiment that tries to prove a hypothesis or theory incorrect discourage and hinder the uncovering of scientific truths.

Similarly, the idea that it is possible for a person to be fully informed about current affairs discourages examination of one’s own subconscious beliefs and biases. This may lead them to selectively consume media that confirms their opinion, rather than try to prove themselves wrong by attempting to understand their antithesis. As it is impossible to become fully-informed about a situation and reach an absolute conclusive truth, we must constantly be aware of our own shortcomings and remain open-minded to new and contrasting evidence. Only by realising that there is no final truth can we begin to approach it.

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