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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on April 20, 2002 01:37:52 UTC

Hi Aurino,

Truth is just another word just like all the other words. If we are going to communicate, then we have to agree as to what we mean when we use the word.

***** Aurino:
I'm afraid the issue of truth is a lot more complex than you try to make it. Sure, what's true by definition is absolutely true, but is that all? I don't think so.
*****

Now, essentially what you are saying when you say that is that I need to map a larger portion of your expressions or comments into my concepts before I can establish the required isomorphism needed to use the word "truth". That is, the concept you are trying to communicate with that word is more complex than the concept I am attaching it to. Ok, if that is your demand, then you will have to spend some serious time trying to communicate those complications to me; however, I might not have too much patience with your attempts as your comments up to now seem to indicate that there are some doubts in your mind as to exactly what you mean. If that is indeed the case, then the conversation falls into that other meaningless category I have referred to!

Now I know it sounds like I am trying to give you a hard time but I am not. I just want to clarify exactly what I mean by the word truth (if that is actually possible). The first issue is that "truth" is a word which categorizes some information (I think we probably agree on that). If that is the case, then, in order to know what "truth" means, we need to know exactly the algorithm which is to be used to determine whether a particular piece of information gets the label or not.

Of significance here is that, under my understanding of the concept true, once established, the label can not change. If the possibility of change exists then the information cannot be categorized as true independent of what that algorithm might be.

***** Aurino:
As someone once said, keep things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
*****

Now I certainly donít think the definition can be made any simpler than that as, to be a truly useful definition, I still have to add that algorithm. Now, I know something true by definition can be true because that is no more than a decision to maintain a specific tag on a particular concept and the algorithm is "we agreed to do it". However, you ask, "but is that all?"

Your answer is that you donít think so. Well, Aurino, neither do I. I can add another algorithm which is capable of categorizing a truth, it is something I can remember. If I can remember it, it must be an observation (what I have defined to be the past: i.e., information which my explanation of the Universe is to explain). Now here life starts to get a little complex. There are two different kinds of information which I can remember: first there is "knowable data" and secondly there is "unknowable data" (ideas I have thought up to explain the knowable stuff). Well, clearly if it consists of the "knowable data" it can not change and fulfills the requirements of "the truth". And secondly, if it consists of the "unknowable data" it constitutes the information required to make the "knowable" stuff the only possibility. That means that it also cannot change so it appears that the past must be "true".

However, there are two problems with this final category. The first is the fact that the mechanism (that the unknowable data is indeed required) requires the constraint that the explanation be 100% internally consistent with the explanation of everything in the entire universe. I think that aspect of the problem is consistent with your idea of the truth. And that the appearance that there is some doubt in your mind is a direct consequence of the very fact that you recognize (at least subconsciously) the need for that consistency together with your simultaneous inability to guarantee it. Now here is where work is of benefit. The more inconsistencies we can remove, the more apt it is that what we "think we know" is actually true.

The second problem is much more subtle and, as a matter of fact, is the issue I wanted to talk to Harv about. For the moment I will let it lay aside as an issue to be discussed when we understand each other better (if that ever happens). If you understand what I have said here, you have come a long way to understanding my perspective.

Have fun -- Dick

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