Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Cannot Recognize A True Answer

I'll start with one of the biggest principles of "why things sometimes don't work", which is also one of the biggest secrets of how modern society works.

Those who don't know the answer to a question, also do not know which proposed answer is correct.

Example : You are walking in a business district, and you realize that you have an appointment at 2 pm, but you forgot your watch. Two men are about to pass you, and you ask for the time. One looks at his watch and says " 1:50 pm " and the other looks at his and says " 2:05 pm ". Are you late ? Which is correct ?

You might guess that the man with the expensive suit and expensive watch might have the more accurate time, but on the other hand, my wife's expensive dress watch is always wrong, while I have had $10 watches that are within a second.

In society, it is not unusual for people to believe the "fanciest" person. A recent study showed that only 25% of the recommendations made by medical doctors have any basis in science whatsoever. But, most people have no way of judging the reliability and accuracy of medical information - any more than they can judge whether their auto mechanic or TV repairman is giving them an accurate diagnosis (assuming that they are not experienced in those fields).

When the question involves such a physical world reality as health or the time-of-day, then a trial and error process allows us to identify reliable sources of information in the long run. But when the question is about a more abstract topic or a more general area, then we often never know whose answer was really correct. Whether it is political leaders, corporate executives, or sports team managers, one cannot rewind time and test different options to see if they would actually have worked out better.

So, our society is filled with convincers, persuaders, salesmen, and marketing consultants, who tell us what is the "correct" answer to our questions. They give the impression of competence, and possess self-confidence, but in areas where there is no quantifiable physical data, that is all they can provide.

Controlling modern human society is about controlling the characterization of the situation.

People who are asking a question, do not know the correct answer, otherwise they would not need to ask. So, they have no real way of recognizing which is the correct answer.
Since human society has been so specialized for 10,000 years, individuals have been dependent on others' correct answers, but have no way to recognize them, until it is too late.

** Perhaps the biggest characteristic of human society is the DENIAL of this situation.

This also applies to the media, who thereby provide vast amounts of information that they cannot verify, since they cannot have expertise in all those areas. Since the entire media is depedent on this fraud, none of them can expose it (or even recognize it) without losing their livelihood. It would undercut the entire concept of the media, who are the only ones who could deliver the message, and so such an action is avoided by rationalizations like "well we do some good, so it is okay in balance".

The more recent media mental technique to avoid this conflict entirely is to "present both sides". This allows the media to avoid any assessment of truth, and allows them to continue in the communication business.

This relegates those issues to the condition of being a sports conflict, causing viewers to take sides, and thus truth is now determined by group affiliation, rather than facts. Thus we affilate ourselves with a group's characterization of the situation. Since those groups are aimed at acquiring influence and power, their characterizations of the situation are entirely formulated to appeal, rather than to be true. The more appealing characterization wins power.

Thus human society is moving towards control by the most appealing characterization of the situation (which is not necessarily the most positive, in fact the most negative usually is the most effective, cf triggering the fire alarm).

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The Truth Is Not Out There by Kenneth Stuart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.