Truth, Knowledge, and Understanding

It has been my goal for many years to remove all beliefs from my mind. What I mean by this is that if I do not truly know and understand something, to the degree that I can argue a strong case for it, and use that understanding to predict natural phenomenon, or do something else of a practical nature, then how can I really claim to know it. The purpose of this article is to explain the case for this philosophical position, and in hope that you might take it up as well for yourself.

The simple fact is that if you do not understand something, including how and why it is true, then how can you possibly claim to know it. Knowledge simply does not exist in the absence of understanding. Too many people replace true knowledge and understanding with belief and trust. These people simply go to a source they trust, which has done all the thinking for them, and because they trust that source, they believe what it says. This in turn is why brainwashing is so easy, because all someone with a lot of money and power needs to do, is work towards controlling those sources, and that is exactly what has happened in modern society.

The Problem:

The problem with this position of belief and trust, is that it makes people rather easy to manipulate, but even beyond this, it leads to delusion, and in the worst cases, it can lead to some form of insanity beyond mere delusion.

People identify themselves with their beliefs, and so when their beliefs are attacked, they feel that it is themselves that is being attacked, and so they defend their position at all costs, thus entrenching the beliefs they hold, even if they are completely false.

Cognitive Dissonance:

Let us say for example that you hold a belief which just happens to be false, and you identify with that belief, so you feel that it is part of your very being. What happens when people, or reality itself, present evidence that your belief is false? The answer to this question is stress, you will experience a stress associated with this contradiction between the data you are receiving, and the thing you believe. This stress is the source of this feeling of cognitive dissonance.

In such a situation, either you have the humility and wisdom to realise that there exists no benefit in believing a falsehood for a single moment longer than you have to, and thus you look at the information presented, and you change your beliefs accordingly; or, you double down on your beliefs, and invent new beliefs which help you interpret that data in such a manner as to make it congruent with your existing beliefs, which have now grown by as many new beliefs as was required to protect that original belief, and these new beliefs will also be false in some way.

Now imagine this process was to continue, so that reality itself continued to contradict your beliefs, even with this new layer of protective beliefs, and thus you still experience cognitive dissonance, and without the courage to question those beliefs and live in their absence, you create yet another layer of beliefs to protect the first layer, which in turn protects the original belief that was contradicted.

This kind of “onion skin” layer of beliefs, will gradually reinterpret everything you experience so that the gradient of difference between reality and the core belief is lowered, with each successive layer just reinterpreting things slightly so that by the time incoming data reaches that core belief, it no longer resembles in any way the data you actually received. Hence the onset of delusion, and the gateway to full blown insanity.

The more beliefs you invent to protect the prior beliefs, the less relationship with reality you have, until finally you live in a fantasy world, and sane people will appear as insane from your perspective.

Reality vs. Perspective:

For any event, there exists a source, or sources of the data eminating from that event, but as light, sound, and smell – through which we gain the majority of our perception of the world around us – can change dramatically in transit between the source and reference frame ( or position ) from which you experience that data, and since your senses are limited in their ability to interpret data, what you end up with is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the originating event of the data.

So even for a completely rational person, our relationship to reality is never going to be 100% accurate, but if you hold such delusional beliefs as argued above, then you barely have a connection to it at all.

I would suggest that a wise person is one who is aware of these facts, and who thinks of the data they receive is merely silhouettes of an event taking place elsewhere, and so they measure their responses to that information in the light of these inaccuracies of perception, and particularly with understanding of the differences in reference frames for multiple observers of the same event. With such an attitude towards perception, a closer relationship with reality becomes possible.

The Cure:

The cure to this disease, is to remove all belief, and to learn about how axioms can be proven as self evident, to learn about philosophical argument ( reasoning + logic + evidence = conclusion ), and to effectively begin again with a blank slate, but a process by which you can determine what is possible, probable, or certain, and what is accurate or inaccurate.

As mentioned in another article, if you strictly define the domain of context of a claim, it becomes easier to test whether it is true or false, as you have limited the domain in which you are claiming it to be true or false.

For anything which you do not yet know how to prove to be true or false, you simply replace belief with the consideration and contemplation of any and all possibilties, weighted only by probabilities, until new data allows you to convert consideration and contemplation into new knowledge and understanding.

This journey requires patience and humility, you cannot be upset that you do not know something, instead perhaps be excited by the adventure of finding out.

Government & Media:

Typically, particularly in a lot of western countries, the government and media ( plus a great many of their advertising clients ) tell the truth in only 4 situations:

  1. where it is trivial;
  2. where it is in their own interests;
  3. where they are forced to do so;
  4. when it is to sell you a greater lie.

This unfortunate situation comes about due to the existence of capitalism, creating the economic incentive to control people, and the belief in authority of government.

The crimes they have committed by the use of propaganda are numerous, and date back perhaps to the invention of the printing press or before, perhaps even to the origins of written language. So long as there exists and advantage in controlling people, lies will be told, and people are so often their own worst enemy in this regard, by being too afraid to challenge what it is they believe to be true ( particularly about themselves and their society ).

DIY Deprogramming:

For now, all I can advise you to do is to read what I have written and seek good information on those subjects, but ultimately it comes down to a great deal of contemplation, and one of the techniques I have used a great deal over the past decades, is to run hypothetical scenarios through my mind, in order to test the logic required for any piece of information to be true or false, by changing its variables, and then extrapolating what the new answers would be if that logic were true, then checking those things against other information.

What I would like to do through this blog, an associated podcast, and through a series of books and other such things, is to help you on this journey by giving you some short cuts that I have figured out along the way, and explaining many of the concepts involved, in a way you’re unlikely to see them written elsewhere.

If this idea appeals to you, I am working on setting up a crowdfunding campaign, so that I can get the support I need to produce all this material, and I would release things one at a time, in order to build up a big resource that you would have access to. If you’d like to help out, for now there is a contact form on this site, and hopefully at some stage soon I will have the crowdfunding set up. Please feel free to write to me at any time.