Why Truth is so Important

Posted Jul 20, 2010

Imagine there's a serial killer on the loose. For reasons of political expediency (In other words, to make someone look good) a likely candidate is found. They are arrested, pushed through the legal system and quickly found guilty.

Now the public believes the serial killer has been caught and the danger is over. Everything is fine.

Except for 2 tiny facts:

  1. The actual criminal is still free and able to kill again
  2. And now, the killer has even more reason to be confident that they will never be caught

The public is still in danger, perhaps more so now, and no lies or twisting of the facts will change this.

The above is a hypothetical example. We can argue the merits or whether this has ever actually occurred. However, the main point is simple:

Lying, covering up facts and trying to alter perceptions about a situation does not change what truly happened.

If we are never informed about some battle, does that mean those killed never really died? Of course not.

In all areas of human endeavor, business, politics, sports, science, relationships, etc. it is common for something to go wrong. We are not perfect. However, we try to give the illusion of perfection. We go so far as to try to "erase" any mistakes we make, by covering them up.

When a business manager encounters an error or problem, he may "fudge" the paperwork a bit, so his superiors don't learn of it. The problem is that those errors don't go away. They often build up, until the situation explodes.

Take the case of Bernard Madoff. He was convicted of what's called a ponzi scheme. He claimed a person's investment was making X% return, when in realty, the amount was lower. In order to cover the difference between real and fictional interest, he used money from a 2nd investor. However, to keep the 2nd investor, he needed to claim a return that was, again, higher than reality. And again he needed to borrow money from a 3rd investor to cover the losses of the 2nd. And so the chain builds. Until finally the fiction collapsed upon its own weight. Unfortunately his case happened to be the biggest of its kind so far.

This is a poor example. Not every business owner or manager is dishonest. But some are less honest than others. And as I said, dishonesty runs in all circles.

Scientists spend time researching certain avenues of study, looking for potentially ground-shaking discoveries. All too often, they turn up empty handed. All their research, work and effort, and they find nothing useful. Or worse. What they find is Truth, but they understand that those funding their work (and lifestyle) don't want that particular "Truth". So, in order to keep things going, they create false findings. They exaggerate the results and impact of their work. In short, they are no longer scientists looking for Truth, they are salesmen selling their customers a fiction. And the worse ones, after selling their work to their customers, knowing full well it's not true, try to fill their pockets by finding more and even more customers who will buy their false data and incorrect conclusions. The more money they make, the more incorrect data is spread, which actually hampers the true scientists.

And this could have simply been avoided by three simple words: I was wrong.

Simply uttering those words, and being willing to try again, with this new data of what is incorrect, helps point toward the paths that lead to true discovery, true learning.

Imagine this world if Pierre and Marie Curie or Edison had simply fudged the result of their 1st trials. Instead when something was wrong, they admitted it, and tried again, and again, and again, until they discovered Truth.

All of these are different situations, but born from the exact same problem. One where someone understood (or thought) that if the Truth is known, someone will be upset or angry with them. So they conceal things to make themselves look better then they really are.

And in so doing, they create additional problems all the while only delaying the moment of understanding for others.

It's so very hard to admit Truth when it does not reflect well on us. But the potential problems coming from covering up the Truth can, in many situations, negatively affect people for generations.

With magicians, movie makers, fictional story writers, etc. it's different, in that we understand it is a falsehood designed to entertain. We all (story-teller and audience) agree to this temporary fiction. And that's fine, natural and good.

But, to sell fiction by pretending it is fact. Well, that's a huge problem.

This is why this Philosophy MUST conform to The First Rule of Understanding, so that any incorrect information we pass on is stopped as soon as possible.

In short, when you're wrong, admit it and tell the Truth.

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