We are confronted daily with multiple opinions on what we need to do to survive the Coronavirus. Faced with conflicting information, how do we decide what to believe? What is the truth?
We’ve heard that a decision based on science is more true than a decision based on an opinion. The question then becomes what is science? I am not a scientist and though I live with a scientist, I don’t feel qualified to define science other than it has to do with controlled studies that can be replicated.
Let’s look at two other types of truth: narrative truth and historical truth.
Narrative truth is the truth of literary art. We all know when we read a story that feels true, how satisfying it is.
Historical truth is the truth of actuality, of what really happened.
Sigmund Freud proposed a metaphor of the analyst as an archaeologist who unearths traumatic events of the analysand’s past. This suggests that the truth found in analysis is historical truth.
But others have pointed out that the analyst and the analysand, when creating their true story, use narrative truth to pull the facts together.
As is becoming apparent, finding truth isn’t easy. Figuring out what is science or what is true story or discovering facts of what actually happened, requires the the skill of analyzing. The analytical attitude, discussed last week, may guide us towards truth.
The take home lesson: Slow down and observe what is being presented to you as truth. Question. Analyze. Keep an open mind. And consider this: Truth is not something we attain, it is something we realize with a start, as if we had always known it.
I would love to hear how you determine what is true in this day of fake news and false advertising.
CLUE: We’ve never needed this bit of wisdom so desperately as we do now: Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points. (Kevin Kelly – find on Twitter.)
IMAGE: Envelopes containing truth for my memoir.