Marketplace of truths

“Language is also clearly crucial for a special kind of abstract thinking that requires what the philosopher Daniel Dennett calls ‘scaffolding’—chains of reasoning so complex that we need external placeholders to keep us from forgetting where we are,” writes Edward Slingerland in Trying Not to Try (p. 60).

Slingerland continues, “The sum total of these scaffolding devices can be referred to as “culture”: a body of information passed down from generation to generation in a process that, in some important respects, resembles genetic evolution.”

That’s certainly true of facts and observations, as well. It would be impossible to come up with a fact without drawing a boundary—and by extension, omitting much of the complexity around it.

“There are many sides to every story. To put the old saying another way, there is usually more than one truth to be drawn from any set of facts,” Hector Macdonald writes in Truth (p. 8). He came up with a new name for these options: competing truths.

If there can be a marketplace of ideas, there can certainly be one for truths. At large, culture is composed of the context we create or learn about around the facts; we choose the facts we believe in.

See also Ground News’ Blindspot product.

P.S., I’ll need to dig up the link for this; as memory is serving me, a post from a few years ago once observed that a reliable way to go viral on Hacker News was to provide facts that support a strong belief that people already hold. You could probably apply that to all sorts of content on the internet.

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