Is Truth Obsolete?

If I make my judgement on that question based on what I know, can infer, and can expect, I would say No, truth is not obsolete. If I base it on what the media and politicians tell me I would say Yes. Others seem to have a different system and I assume they believe in what they are doing.

Can truth depend on point of view? It seems so.

What is truth?

There seems to be two kinds of truth.

  1. The particular item under scrutiny is internally consistent given a belief system.. For example, people are  inherently good and deserving, but society conspires against some of them. The opposite belief system would be people are morally and intellectually weak and bad things happen because of their mistakes. The belief system causes the policy conflicts. The people are the same in each system. Most of the left believe in the good and deserving system, while many others believe you build procedures to minimize the cost of the morally and intellectually weak. Governments prefer the good and deserving idea because they can control the narrative and pass laws to address the injustices they perceive. The question they face is what happens if they’re wrong about “good and deserving.”
  2. The particular item is independent of any belief system. For example the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

Type 2 can be tested objectively and, every careful researcher would get the same answer. Type 1 truth requires acceptance of the underlying belief system.  If the belief system is accepted the observation is true, if not accepted, then not true.

We tend to agree on observable or testable matters. Theories or hypotheses are different. They are possibly true but unproven, maybe unprovable at all. Many of Einstein’s ideas have been “proven to be true” decades after he said they must exist. Social theories are less compliant.

All of us hold some ideas that are unproven theories. We argue about “facts” when the problem is the people hold a different belief system.

Why truth matters.

The world is complex and we have to live in the future. Planning is a way for us to organize our lives against what we believe the future may be. Truth is a key component of each plan.  If we use delusional “facts,” the world of reality will dismiss our efforts. For example, if we never exercise, make poor dietary choices,  take uncontrollable risks, and have no useful skills, we can’t rationally expect to thrive. No matter our belief system, our actions force reality to pinish us.

Reality imposes outcomes.

Most military theoreticians hold the idea that one must find and act upon objective reality. In simple terms, wishing things are your favoured way is not a sound basis for decisions.

We all have a tendency to think the world will respond to what we do, while at the same time ignoring how we should behave given what the world presents to us. Sometimes called strategic arrogance. Reality has little need to change according to what we choose. We don’t have the same latitude with our decisions.

Objectivity is difficult

Suppose your plan depnds on future interest rates. Maybe your mortgage is a burden, or maybe you have limited savings to provide income for retirement. How difficult is it to assess where you will be in a decade?

You will be required to assess the potentially adverse outcomes depending on the possibility of a yield change and its magnitude.

Good planning does not require you be right about your assessment of the future. Good planning requires an organized response to crucial changes. Anticipate and adapt.

Here we want to know if we could sustain a bad variable. If we cannot afford our home if rates triple, we should deal with that. If we cannot live on what we can earn unless rates triple, we should think that through too. If you can anticipate a problem it is mor elikely  you will find a workable answer.

In this case, future reality is a possibility not a fact and we should address our needs against the spectrum of possibilities. We then decide what our best response would be to the various positions in that spectrum.

Once we start that way, we find there are missing pieces. We must learn to find those and assess them objectively in respect to their relative importance and design a plan that accomodates more space than a single hoped-for outcome.

The bits to take away

Wishing is not a viable strategy.

We are self-limiting. Truth, is not a clear thing. Be sure you assess other points of view on the question.

If you find truth to be conflicted be sure you understand both sides and perhaps find a middle position.

Do not permit beliefs to quell other possible truths.

Mistrust any truth that relies on your point of view. “I don’t agree, but I can see why you see it the way you do.” helps you balance probabilities.


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I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don@moneyfyi.com

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