Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Pinocchio Index

The Washington Post has something called the Pinocchio Index, a means by which the truthfulness or falsity of any given claim can be measured. It goes from 1 to 4. Donald Trump has a lot of 4's. This blog isn't about him because he's a wanker, but it is about whether we, as individuals, are actually interested in truth. By truth I refer to measurable and falsifiable facts, not religious truths, which are self evidently made up. The way social media works is often an impediment to getting to the heart of a thing, and it's all my fault. And yours. Well everybody's. We tend to gravitate towards the opinions we want to hear, the one's that reinforce our own biases. That's human nature, but it is also not great for truth seeking. Back when I was a Christian, I read loads of Christian books and listened to loads of Christian speakers and surrounded myself with lots of Christian friends. I loved my life and the people around me and it all kind of made sense. I was pressing all the buttons to hear the messages I already wanted to hear, and in so doing got caught up in a perpetual feedback loop of ignorance. Now ignorance isn't a crime, and I remain ignorant about a vast ocean of things. But the difference between now and then is that my pursuit of truth is done, as much as I can, without stacking the deck before hand. Now there is a German saying that refers to "Finding the hair in the soup", which is to refer to the kind of person who always tries to seek the negative. This isn't me either. I don't set out to be negative, but I'm not interested in what makes me feel good, or secure, or better able to cope, either. I'm just interested in what is true. In where the facts lead. I try to remain emotionally neutral as I do this. Which isn't always easy. Case in point, I'm awaiting confirmation that a have a degenerative condition which, in all probability, is going to require some lifestyle modification. Of the two hundred variants of arthritis on the market I strongly suspect that I'm host to one of its more enthusiastic brands. But I don't know for sure. I'm waiting on the evidence. So whilst I do that I don't see much point in trying to fill the gaps. The facts aren't in, and it is the facts that I am interested in. So to wind things up, I'm a big fan of being open to new information. Of living in an evidence based manner. Perhaps this is why I'm so hostile to the priest's and the imams of the world who claim to know things that they cannot possibly know. The get straight 4's on the Pinocchio Index in my book.