Society and “truth”, Peter and Pete – a sad reflection

A screen shot of comments made by Peter & Pete on Youtube showing that they don’t care what is true, they only care about their own world view.

It is sad that some in society are now unable to distinguish between scientific truth and opinion. In my opinion this shows the inadequacy of our education systems to arm them with critical thinking skills.

Perhaps its only fair to state what I think a scientific “truth” is. In my opinion it is a statement that fits the observed facts it is describing and it can be tested in multiple ways to the limits of societies ability and knowledge. There is a wider definition and discussion summarised nicely here:

When things can only be partially tested then those ideas are not truths they are still in the realms of theory but they are still miles ahead of an “opinion”. Scientific truths are essentially things that fit the facts as best we know. Theories are models of reality that fit the facts we are able to check at the time but may not survive without modification when we learn more in the future. A lot of theories have become accepted as fact in this way.

The trouble with “truths” is that there are so many that no one person can test them all so we are asked to trust people who are supposed to know more on the subject than we do. We choose thought leaders to listen to, some are imposed (e.g. teachers). There have always been people who abuse this trust to spin falsehoods, using personality and power to convince people less able/knowledgeable of lies.

Trump is a horrifying example of this, antivaxxers are another. Trump visibly succeeding in what he does is has impact wider than just politics, its breeds greater distrust in the nature of truth in all aspects of life. With his use of “alternative facts” he says lies are ok and you can even get away with it. In my view, by lieing so easily and with such conviction he has singularly accelerated societies distrust in all our institutions whether it be politics, medicine or science. This growing fear/distrust leads to sad outcomes such as Peter & Pete.

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