Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

heatherl18's picture

Truth vs. truth

 One thing that really struck me during our discussion last week was this notion of "truth." Truth is an abstract concept that we believe in and have convinced ourselves is real because we have a very human fear of the unknown. I like that we refer to scientific "truths" as little t, because the elusive big T will probably never be uncovered, no matter how much we as a society conflate little t and big T. Everything is true until it isn't. Like the example we used in class the other day, with the story of the Earth being flat vs. the story of the Earth being round. For a while, it was true that the Earth was flat. The only reason it's no longer true is because new observations became available with new technological advances, requiring a new summary of observations to explain that particular phenomenon. This new summary of observations led us to what we now regard as truth. We have dismissed the old summary in favor of the new one. However, as 100% certain as we all like to think we are that the Earth is flat, we cannot prove that beyond a doubt. Conceivably, further technological advances could open up a discovery of an even newer set of observations, which relegate our theory of a round Earth to the pile of ex-truths where we can find a flat Earth and a sun god. Or maybe it is True, and we'll never know. My point is that by subscribing to this idea that there is a definitive Truth, we are missing out on all the little truths we could be ruling out.

Reply

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
1 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.