October 24, 2003

A Great Question for Bloggers and Blogreaders

Stephen Green is asking (and answering) one of the all-time great speculative questions. I can think of three answers right off the top of my head:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Philip K. Dick

"There is no pravda in Pravda."

Old Soviet saying.

"What do you think, sirs?"

Posted by Phil at October 24, 2003 12:07 PM | TrackBack

I thought I remembered the USSR joke differently,
and here's how Google remembers it:
"Isvestia nyet Pravda; Pravda nyet Isvestia ... "
(NEWS is not the truth, and TRUTH is not news)

Posted by: linsee at October 24, 2003 04:23 PM

Izvinitye, linsee

Of course, you're absolutely correct. My memories of my time in Russia are a little cloudy. I was drinking quite a bit of vodka back in those days.

Spacebo bolshoi,


Posted by: Phil at October 24, 2003 08:42 PM

I don't get what knowledge we're supposed to get from the question aside from what appears to me to be a surprisingly high response rate. Perhaps journalists are concerned about their image/reputation when it comes to the accuracy of their reporting? That seems a reasonable concern. But we don't actually get any other information except for multiple interpretations of "Truth" or whether the answerer believes that interpretation or attempts to report "truthfully".

For me, "Truth" is an process of communication in which you attempt to convey information as accurately as you can. This means taking steps to avoid false information including inserting tests (eg, reproducible observations and rational arguments) into your communication, and providing references for your sources of information (eg, citations, attributing a source). The best communcation also has feedback. The audience can respond and inform me of whether they understood my message. Further, I'm willing to change my beliefs if a better model (eg, one that fits better with the facts) appears.

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