We spent two hours debating what it means to say that a proposition is (or seems to be) “true.” This is a not trivial problem in philosophy. But the place at which Peterson and I got stuck was a strange one. He seemed to be claiming that any belief system compatible with our survival must be true, and any that gets us killed must be false.
The essence of reasoning is a search for truth. Yet truth isn’t always as simple as we’d like to believe it is.
For as far back as we can imagine, philosophers have debated whether absolute truth exists. Although we’re still waiting for an answer, this doesn’t have to stop us from improving how we think by understanding a little more.
In general, we can consider something to be true if the available evidence seems to verify it. The more evidence we have, the stronger our conclusion can be.
My claim is that religion can provide direct access to this emotional life in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder at the majesty of nature, but there are many forms of human suffering that are beyond the reach of any scientific alleviation. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike previous secular tributes to religion that praise its ethical and civilizing function, I think we need religion because it is a road-tested form of emotional management.
Often, the conversation around gun violence becomes a conversation around political identities and ideologies rather than one about truth and how we arrive at it. This website is interesting in that it focuses on what we know through science. It uses appropriate, often cautious, language to come to its conclusions. The site is worth exploring. The table below summarizes the meta analysis of existing research done by the Rand Corporation. Click through the image to find the appropriate page. You can click in the table to see what research and evidence there is to support conclusions about efficacy.
Here is a link to the main page. Worth exploring for those curious about gun policy but also as an interesting case study on the use of the scientific method to help us understand and evaluate a problem in society.
“How easy is it to change people’s votes in an election?
“The answer, a growing number of studies conclude, is that most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.”
“But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.”
“Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive, wants to improve the national political debate with a treasure trove of facts about government. The post-truth age might not be so receptive.
“It’s an honorable idea. But facts alone are feeble things. Given more information, most people don’t change their minds, even when the new data seems to support the opposite argument. They convince themselves that the information is misleading (“alternative”) or simply wrong (“fake). They tune out stuff that’s uncomfortable to hear and tune in to cable news programs like reliably tell them that their intuition about the world is even more right than they knew. When most apocalyptic cults face irrefutable proof that they miscalculated the end of days, they don’t call it quits and return to their normal pre-doomsday lives.”