Mission/Overview


As I worked feverishly on the upcoming relaunch of the new Truth-Driven Thinking Podcast, web site, and most importantly the upcoming learning community (July launch) centered on truth-driven living—a thought occurred to me. Some people question the viability and worthiness of truth as a goal. But can we agree on a few simple propositions? Assume for the moment that we’re talking more about questions of public policy, government, and/or broader societal decision-making; can you agree to the following? (Vote via a link at the bottom.)

  1. Knowing the truth about something makes it easier to fix, understand, or improve that thing. (Assuming for now that an earthly truth exists for all questions, no matter how complex that truth may be—and that some earthly “truths” are knowable and comprehensible to humans; e.g., the space shuttle flies because we “know” gravity and the “proven” laws of physics to be “true.”)
  2. Actions taken based upon true assumptions are more likely to be effective and bear fruit than those based on untrue assumptions.
  3. Therefore, improved estimations of what is true (a.k.a. “how the world really works”) are most useful for improving anything, including the wellbeing of human beings.

And finally, although absolute “Universal Truth” is unknowable and likely unintelligible to humans:

  • 4. The best estimates of truth (reality and “how the world really works”) are attained through the naturalistic methods of science, reason, logic, and empirical evidence;
  • 5. Therefore, those are the best tools for advancing the wellbeing of humanity.

Yes, there are all sorts of problems and details to debate about what “wellbeing of human beings” means and looks like, but that’s too much detail for now; if we can agree to this foundation, we have already made giant strides along the early part of our journey to make the world a better place.  (Vote your assent or dissent here.)

If we cannot agree, that’s okay. But it may be a conversation best had another time and place. Usually if we can’t agree to these items, the problem lies somewhere in the last two items, and in a point of philosophy—often one so boring and “out there” that we regular folks’ eyes glaze over quickly. A common one is that someone says, “No, science, reason, and logic are flawed; you are forgetting faith as a means of knowing things.”

This would also lead us down a path to a lengthy epistemological debate beyond the scope of this page. For now suffice to say that the most basic tenet of truth-driven thinking is that we must always remain open to new arguments and new evidence; but that said, “faith as evidence” is a real show-stopper, and thus will be useless to our journey Will it not? This is because of that answer gives us no need to talk or inquire further; it is an unsatisfactory answer. There would be no need for a website dedicated to truth seeking if “faith” were a satisfactory proof of anything. Whose faith? Which version? Don’t we want to know more than that? When the answer to a big question about how the world works is “god did it,” you can forget going to class, forget studying why stem cells work as they do, and stop asking why.

The claims of someone’s “faith” answer may even be absolutely true, but they simply cannot be tested, falsified (proven wrong), or even debated, any more than if I say there is a dish of lasagna orbiting a tiny planet in a distant galaxy, and I know this because of my faith as a pastafarian. This is not to make fun of faith, per say, but merely to point out why it will be of little use to our journey to fix or improve things.

So while some might see that as an unfair constraint, searching for truth becomes devoid of meaning when one’s “proof” can be “God did it.” Beyond that constraint in method, however, it is my sincere hope that whether you are religious or not, you can join us in a community that seeks truth openly and freely—wherever the inquiry takes us. Just about the only rule, then, is that no belief be held above critical scrutiny, and that all estimations of truth are provisional and temporary—open to new evidence.

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(Stephen L. Gibson is the author of  A Secret of the Universe, a critically acclaimed, citation-rich novel about the intersections of science, reason, and faith. Still an emotion-driven thinker in recovery, Steve shares his journey in search of ever-elusive truth with thousands via his Truth-Driven Thinking podcast, and his Perspectives blog. © 2011, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC.)

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Welcome to “Perspectives,” the official BLOG for Stephen L. Gibson’s Truth-Driven Thinking efforts! Having hosted the podcast for a couple years now–in conjunction with my writing, speaking, oh … and trying to make a living too–well, I avoided this step like the proverbial plague. But alas, as I find myself constantly facebooking (v. meaning to waste copius amounts of valuable time) and emailing in addition to the podcast, so figured how much more work could it be to centralize via the blog? More to the point, and more seriously, I figured that some of the poignant and thoughtful reactions to (and the ridiculous flames about)  my journey as a reforming emotion-driven thinker–would be even more meaningful when exposed to a collective intelligence, or “Wisdom of the Crowd,” to use James Surowiecki’s term.

Candidly, I’m working on a presentation for Dragon*Con 2009 called “Feeding the Skeptic’s Soul,” which is about the isolation one can feel when they see the world from a minority perspective, as I do (agnostic, humanist, skeptic, quazi-determinist). I am fascinated with human behavior: how we come to know what we think we know (epistemology); how we often hold our “beliefs” above critical scrutiny; how we seek information that affirms what we think we know and ignore the rest; how we belittle others who believe differently because they force us to introspection; and how we segregate ourselves by school color, national boundary, creed, color, or other such in-group/out-group criteria. As a result, I try to hold no beliefs above critical scrutiny. In fact, I often say that I try not to hold “beliefs” at all, but rather recognize I have only opinions in various stages of development (and many not very well evolved at all :-)).

So here goes:

THE AIM OF “PERSPECTIVES”

It will be part amateur philosophy, part ramblings on current events, part real-time dispatches from a reforming emotion-driven thinker, and part humanist ministry. Just as those who minister to religious audiences leverage their investment of time in pondering and learning, then generously share that discovery with others (for better or worse), perhaps so to can the humble ruminations of an everyday Midwesterner be of value in providing food for thought for those unsatisfied by certain definitions of the knowable supernatural realm.

THE MISSION OF THE BLOG:

  • To support the mission of Truth-Driven Thinking, with an editorial focus that celebrates and explores the pain, joy, wonder, awe, feelings, and emotion that define our humanity;
  • To ponder everyday issues and personal challenges from the lesser-known skeptical or naturalistic perspectives;
  • To allow others to vicariously learn with me as I examine and expand my understanding of the human experience and the natural world.

BTW, the Truth-Driven Thinking Mission: to encourage intellectual honesty in contemporary dialogue by revealing the prevalence of human tendencies toward emotion-driven thinking, the hidden costs of acting upon the flawed assumptions that result, and by illustrating that science, reason and evidence-based action are the best path to optimizing the “greater good” for all

Lastly, and I can’t say this strongly enough, my standard disclaimers apply. From the web site at www.truthdriventhinking.com:

This site has no claim on truth. Truth is elusive and highly complex (though I do provisionally assume that one truth does exist for all earthly questions–inconceivably complex though it may be). Rather, this site is about methods of discourse and inquiry we can use to attain better approximations of truth. It also suggests truth as the ultimate virtue or goal, above all others (including hope, faith, etc.). Though only provisionally, it also suggests that we reach the best estimates of truth through science, reason, evidence, logic and intellectually honest dialogue. Do NOT EVER believe that this site or any other can tell you what is true and what is not. And CAUTION – there is something here that WILL stimulate an emotional response. When it happens, I beg you to ponder WHY it happens. Why do you have an emotional reaction? Do you hold truth as the highest of virtues?