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What is truth?

At 5:07 AM 9/7/95, Jim Choate wrote:
>> Doesn't make it true, in Tim's sense--just makes it verifiable.
>> MacN
>> On Wed, 6 Sep 1995, Jim Choate wrote:
>> > Truth is that which can be verified to be reproducable by indipendant and
>> > unbiased parties. All else is opinion.
>What exactly is Tim's sense to you? Perhaps Tim could clarify more clearly
>what he means by 'truth'.  To me it sounds like he is saying that there is
>some viewpoint that is absolute. I no more believe in absolute viewpoints
>than I believe in absolute coordinates.

I promise to be mercifully brief. This is a subject that we could all go on
and on about. I used the ironic "What is truth?," a la Pilate, to indicate
some degree of ambiguity. How Jim concluded that I have some absolutist
viewpoint from this simple line is unclear to me.

In any case, I don't believe there are "independent and ubiased parties"
who can determine what truth is. Not that there is no measure of truth. I
am no solipsist, and I believe we have a much clearer view today of how
things work than we had, say, 500 years ago. Courtesy of science and the
core idea of falsifiability.

As this view relates to government and law, it is that many things are best
left outside the bounds of the law. The law stays out of most inter-family
disputes, for example, unless violence or fraud of a major sort occurs.

And the law stays out of confirming or refuting religious claims. If
Preacher Bob says that praying to Baal will save one's soul, no law officer
will step in and stop this "lie." As I like to put it, of the N different
religions, at most _one_ of them is "true," and the other N - 1 are based
on lies. So, if we are to "allow" religious freedom we must surely allow
lies to be told. Q.E.D.

Our liberal, Western society went through this debate a long time ago, and
it was pretty much concluded that people could choose their own paths to
hell without interference from others. That people were free to believe any
damned fool idea they wanted to believe in.

Somewhere along the line we've adopted the new view that government needs
to correct all incorrect thoughts, needs to protect people from "hurtful"
ideas and speech, and needs to determine what is true and what is not true.

If you want more information on my views about truth, check out the work on
"evolutionary epistemology," especially the writings of William Bartley and
Karl Popper.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."