Monday, January 5, 2015

Truth is trivial

The following is a true statement:

Some people learn better while on drugs.

We can determine that this is true based purely on grammar and statistics. It is a trivial move, yet it has nontrivial social consequences.

One of these consequences being that you probably don't agree with it, and have objections.

Thing is, the truth value is trivial in this case. All we need to do is to remember that humans are different from each other, that there are some seven-odd billion people in the world, and that there's bound to be a non-zero amount of humans who learn better while on drugs.

If this non-zero amount is also greater than one, then we have the grammatical minimum required to use "some". Which is all we need to get truth: some people learn better while on drugs.

There's bound to be objections at and to this point. Which is the point.

Truth is overrated. It isn't even the main point of our everyday communication.

When you read the sentence "some people learn better while on drugs", what you read wasn't that there's three or four persons in the world who do just that. What you read is more along the lines of social, political and ethical implications of such a statement. You tap into a vast, complicated and relentlessly interconnected web of assumptions, positions and opinions, contextualizing this one sentence into something much larger than the question of whether it is true or not.

Which, to be sure, makes uttering such a sentence something else entirely.

Social interaction is very seldom about truth.

Truth is trivial. The rest of it isn't.

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