Saturday, March 28, 2009

Does Truth Exist?

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Have a listen to a political debate, eliminate the spin and make sense of what's left.

All truth is contextual. Change the context and the meaning also irrevocable morphs. One of the greatest delusions we inflict upon ourselves, is the presumption that there is a universal truth about anything. Yet we can literally lay down our lives in defense of an illusory ideal.

Changing context, fashionably labeled a paradigm shift, used to be referred to as walking in someones else's shoes in order to understand them. Still the myth perpetuates, the belief that we can really grasp any "truth" other than that filtered through our perception lens.

The degree to which an idea fits our quirky beliefs and value systems determines the label we give it. Fact or fiction, right or wrong. As we only have loosely shared life experiences, our perceptions will differ accordingly.

Which eventually brings me to an observation. In a world where beliefs define our actions, regardless of their veracity, we need to buy into the illusion of truth to avoid inertia. We must boldly follow our instincts and create our reality

Occasionally it is interesting to step back and notice the myths that abound, and take stock of the absurdity of some of our intransigent beliefs.

Danbisa Moya is a Zambian Global Economist, who's written a hugely confronting, paradigm shifting book, with an appropriately enigmatic title 'Dead Aid'. The premise being that the estimated $1 Trillion (how many zero's are there in a trillion?) in Aid directed to Africa over the last 50 years has been counter productive. She contends, from the perspective of an African, that it is a myth that aid actually works. Some of her arguments are compelling and not within the scope of this brief blog. But she notes how aid fosters corruption, lack of government accountability, and rather than being a band aid solution, is part of the problem.

Like all things there will be counter 'truths' It is however confronting to have a sudden perspective shift. Does this mean that Bono and Sir Bob, and the millions of genuine contributors are building a house of sand? Is the very real relief that is innoculating and tangibly helping millions in effect perpetuating an inter-generational poverty cycle that is ensnaring hundreds of millions. This a 'truth' not worth contemplating.

What do we do? Do we follow the creed of the ultra right wing anarchists? Embrace only the moment, to hell with consequences, and pursue the immediate goal of the tribe, to hell with the rest of the world? Or more hopefully do we accept that life's a myth and all progress is moving from one myth to a more sophisticated myth in the hope that good intentions bear some fruit.

Less controversial is the 'truth' about the multi-billion dollar Vitamin industry. What could be more harmless than the pursuit of better health through dosing up on a few daily Vitamins. Yet again, more and more actual scientific research is debunking the 'truth' that most vitamins offer much more than placebo benefits. In fact if the dollars spent on vitamins were spent in other areas of health care, such as Yoga or Gym, Pilates, fresh fruit, an hour at a spa perhaps then real benefits may emerge. Do we really want to know this? It's uncomfortable to question what we 'know'
The Flat Earth Society view of life supports the Status Quo. Which is very comfortable thank you very much.

Finally. There have been whisperings for some years now, generally believed to from the mouths of the fringe weirdo, nut jobs, that pre-stretching for sport is largely useless, and perhaps counter productive. Nonsense i say. The benefits of Stretching is an absolute truth. Or not. Looks like another myth i'm afraid. Recent research while contending that warming up muscles before explosive activity is useful in preventing injury, is also debunking the merits of those excruciating groin and hamstring routines we all loved so well.

Embrace your delusions I say. Next year, Smoking will be found to be good for you, Heroin will be on the pharmaceutical benefits list, and your wife will announce that she wished you'd stay longer at the pub.

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