What exactly is The Truth?
Here on ATS and on other similar forums around the internet there is often a lot of heated discussion – typically a wrestling match between
“believers” and “skeptics” (who, if they are a little more aggressive in their approach, might also be called “debunkers”). Watching the
battle play out is quite interesting. Lets take UFO sightings as an example:
1. Someone posts here on ATS that they saw a craft – a spaceship – that was utterly unlike any 'plane they had ever seen. They describe it in
detail and express amazement at their experience and say they are convinced that this was an extra-terrestrial vehicle.
someone will post the skeptical response that the story is utterly unbelievable and there should have been photos or else this is a
hoax. The idea is invariably expressed that "in this world of ubiquitous cameras surely someone there could have taken a picture".
2. So then someone else posts on ATS that they saw a UFO and they managed to snap a picture of it. The picture is a bit fuzzy and unclear. It looks
like a saucer-shaped metallic object in the sky but its not a clear picture.
someone will post a skeptical response that the picture could be OF ANYTHING. Anything, of course, except an ET craft.
3. And then a third person posts a picture – or a video – of a UFO encounter. The image is startlingly crisp and clear. It is excellent visual
evidence of what is clearly a spaceship unlike any we have ever seen on earth.
someone will say that such a clear image is obviously a fake CGI as no UFO images are ever that clear!
It would be humorous if it were not so sad.
And the EXACT same kind of scenario gets played out in different ways with each and every topic under discussion. There are the 9-11 "truthers" who
present layer upon layer of (what they are sure is) incontrovertible evidence that the twin towers attack was anything but the "official story". But
no matter how compelling the evidence might seem to the truthers, guaranteed
there is a skeptic on hand to call some point or another into
question and debunk the whole thing.
And the “birthers” with their mountains of evidence and proof that Obama was not, in fact, born on American soil? Same story all over again! No
amount of evidence ever silences the sceptics. In fact the more evidence that is presented the more likely you are to hear sceptics call the birthers
And this is the case with pretty much every story in every forum on ATS. In fact I can’t think of any single issue that everyone here agrees upon…
that we all just agree “this is the truth”. Can you?
No matter what contention one might make SOMEONE on here is going to come along and present their disbelief. Sometimes in such well constructed terms
that the only thing some of the sceptics seem to believe in are certain other "sceptic-in-chief's". Certainly the things might normally have been
considered “proof” just don’t cut it anymore. Photos can be doctored. We now know that even the EXIF data can be tampered with to make it seem
legit. Videos can be faked. Documentation (that might have looked legit to me) is quickly pulled apart and called phoney.
So maybe the sceptics aren't wrong?
And so what now?
It seems to me that the “issues” will come and go. Truther, birther, UFO believer, chemtrailer… who knows what will come next... These things
will come and go. But there is one common thing that underlies all these issues that, I believe, will not change. It is the issue of “The
So what is THE TRUTH?
Usually people seem to think it is anything that can be “proven”. If it can be proven then it can’t be doubted then it is THE TRUTH. Right? So
let’s look at that:
What can we prove beyond all doubt and question?
I would like to make the perhaps surprising assertion that nothing can actually be proven. Let us use science as an example. Science doesn't actually
offer us "proof" of anything. Science offers us hypotheses that fit the data available. If we test the hypothesis experimentally and it continues to
fit the data under all kinds of different conditions then it is called "proven" and we accept it as "fact" but, over and over again the history of
science shows us that there are always exceptions that come along to upset the apple-cart and force us to re-evaluate those "facts" and come up with a
new, improved hypothesis. Then the process starts again. Over time all of the “proven scientific facts” will be unseated and replaced with other
different “proven scientific facts”. This we know from the history of science and this is what will continue to happen in the future.
How can I be so sure it will continue to happen? Simply because all "scientifically proven facts" are built on the very shakiest of ground. The
fundamental building blocks of science... the most essential elements upon which all theories and ideas are built are these things: time, space,
matter, energy, gravity and light. Pretty much every scientific theory starts with these things and builds on them. And yet we don't have a clue
what any of these things are!
Do yourself a favour some time: see if you can find a working, scientifically valid definition of what "time" is. Or
even just a scientific description of how time works.
You won't find one because there isn't one.
It seems no one knows what "time" is! And yet, almost every physics theory or experiment is predicated on measuring or defining something in relation
to time! So what is the value of the "proof" if it relies on something else that is utterly unknown?
And the same thing is true for "matter". Everything we can interact with is "matter" but what IS it? At its finest level all matter seems to be made
of sub-atomic particles. But what ARE they? Science offers us some descriptions of how they behave under certain experimental conditions but doesn’t
actually know what they are. And can't explain their sometimes deeply quirky behaviour either. And even more interestingly, it seems sub-atomic
particles have no mass. That’s right. They weigh nothing. The stuff of our reality (that weighs something) is built out of smaller stuff that
weighs nothing! In order to explain this physicists have proposed a hypothetical particle called the Higgs Boson. This, they tell us, will explain why
there is such a thing as "mass" in our universe. The trouble is it has never been found or observed – though they hope to do so with the Large
Hadron Collider at CERN. (Either that or they are trying to open a worm-hole to another dimension which will let the evil reptilian monsters in to
over take the earth – conspiracy boards like ATS aren’t clear on this. :-)
But the point here is that “matter” and “mass” are not actually fully understood. All we have is theories. Good theories, I’ll grant you.
Theories that go a long way yo describing what we observe. But nothing here is proved so that no one can argue.
So all scientific proof with regards to matter is ultimately built on nothing more than conjecture. No matter how impressive the fancy words and
complex math might be.
And I could (if you would keep reading that long), make the same case about space, energy, gravity and light. All of the fundamental building blocks
of our conception of our reality are, at their root, mysteries to us. So “scientific proof”, if you dig a bit, turns out to always be built on a
few layers of things we think we know something about, and then underneath it all is always something that we don't know at all. All these "proofs"
are like buildings on a foundation of air.
So even science, which strives valiantly to examine, understand and describe the world we live in, can actually “prove” nothing about it. At best
it is able to describe the way our reality seems to behave under certain conditions.
So much for science if we want The Truth!
But has any other endeavour done any better? Lets try religion. If any one religion could prove beyond all possible doubt that they had the answer,
surely all clear thinking individuals in the world would be forced to see that they are right and join them. And yet… despite preachers and
religious leaders claiming otherwise none, in all of the time they have had to get it right, have been able to silence a single doubt of disbelievers
on even the most basic tenets of their faith.
Some of the most rational, clear-thinking individuals I know are atheists. Though I myself am deeply spiritual by nature, I actually find atheism to
be the only logically, rationally defensible position. If you take subjective experience and “feelings” out of the picture then atheism is the
only belief system that you can’t actually prove wrong! Think about that.
So where science has failed to prove anything to us religion has certainly done no better. So lets see if we can do any better right here on this
Is there anything anyone here can prove to me in such a way that I cannot doubt? That I cannot be sceptical about and “debunk”?
You see you cannot even prove to me that you exist!
I have had some pretty vivid dreams in my life. How can I know for sure this is not another dream and that you are not just a figment of my
There was an old guy that lived on the streets – I used to drive past him most mornings on my way to work – he always seemed to be having angry
conversations at the top of his voice with various streets signs. Whatever was going on there I am sure he believed the street signs were talking
back. So if his experience is possible… maybe everyone here on ATS is… you know… stop signs and no u-turn signs and I am hallucinating your
Or maybe this is like the movie the matrix. All a big computer simulation. And maybe I am the only one here that is “real”.
I’m sure I don’t need to come up with more scenarios – I’m sure you understand what I am trying to get at. What I am saying is that it is
entirely possible for me doubt your existence even as you and I might engage with each other here.
And, in the same vein, neither can I prove that I exist to you!
So then what can we “prove”?
Rene Descartes is famous for his answer to this question. He said:
"I think therefore I am."
Basically he was saying the only thing I can know for sure is that I exist.
And no one, since Descartes, has been able to top that. We can’t prove anything more than that we each exist.
And so… if nothing is ultimately provable doesn’t it seem that the very idea of "proof" itself is redundant?
So… instead of this same old tired, sad “believer” versus “debunker” misery… can we not instead see that the things that appear to each of
us to be true are just that - things that APPEAR true to us at that time. Because, sure as eggs is eggs, over time we all will come to change our
beliefs and our “truth” will shift as a “greater truth” appears to us. Or have YOUR beliefs not modified and matured as you yourself have
grown and progressed?
And if we can see things that way then can we not accept that the things that appear true for you might very well be different from the things that
appear true for me? And that there is no problem with this? We don’t have to share truths... and we certainly don’t have to manipulate each other
into agreement with us! (Are we playground bullies that we cannot tolerate anyone disagreeing with us?)
Because ultimately the things we hold to be true are just the things we have decided
We have, each of us, chosen to filter the input we receive in such a way that we arrive at our beliefs. And since our experiences are different and
our filters are different - it is no wonder our beliefs are different from each others!
And so here is my appeal: can we not allow that someone else’s experience is his experience. If he says so. Can we not hold beliefs without
demanding and insisting that everyone else must immediately hold the same beliefs? Can we not simply share our experiences and beliefs the way people
share gifts – "take it and use it if you want, leave it be if you don’t".
What do you think?
NOTE: 1. In due course I hope to create a follow-up article discussing where our beliefs originate.
NOTE: 2. The above article is modified and excerpted from a fuller article which (with its video version) is
edit on 22-5-2011 by Zingdad because:
improved paragraph spacing