Just Finished Reading: Why Truth Matters by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom
This was a wonderful little book. The authors set out to present a robust defence of reason and the scientific method in the face of the modern (or indeed Post-Modern) fashion of viewing Truth as just another narrative amongst many competing and equally valid narratives. Bit by bit, chapter by chapter they demolish wishful thinking, the social construction theory of truth, Post-modernism, cultural relativism and much else besides.
Told with intelligence, wit and knowing humour this book is a delight to read. The authors certainly take no prisoners in their attack on those who would devalue the search for Truth by turning their backs on reason, logic and evidence. They show time and again with up to date (and often quite ridiculous) examples of how Post-modernist thinking has undermined the validity of reasonable enquiry. Once undermined, the search for truth becomes a ship without a rudder, charts or compass producing confusing, nonsensical and counter-productive tales of wishful thinking rather than anything even vaguely productive.
Truth matters, they say, because we appear to be the only creatures with the ability to find it out. We are the only ones who can know the difference between truth and falsehood. Being so blessed we have the duty, the obligation, to discover the truth. Likewise knowing the true state of things gives us the ability to make sound decisions in often complex situations. Imagine two Generals facing each other on a battlefield. The ‘Fog of War’ can only be penetrated by accurate information. The General that bases his strategy on wishful thinking and who rewards his spies when they present him with good news will be confounded and beaten. The General who bases his strategy on knowledge and who relies on his spies to tell him the truth no matter what it is will not be surprised by what he finds and will inevitably triumph over a less well advised enemy. This is the value of Truth. Without it we are lost in a confusing and dangerous Universe. With it we can see further and plan with confidence knowing that whatever we face will not be totally unknown.
As I said this is a wonderful treasure of a book. I highly recommended it for anyone who seeks the Truth but is unsure exactly where to find it. Go, buy it now.