Knowledge, Truth and Human Action: America Hits the Wall

Published on Global Research.ca, by John Kozy, May 16, 2010.

Americans have a problem with the truth. They seem to be unable to accept it, which is difficult to understand at a time in history when knowledge plays a larger and larger role in determining human action. Recognition of this problem is widespread. Beliefs and lies somehow always overwhelm truth, even when they are so contradictory that any effective action becomes impossible. A kind of national, psychological paralysis occurs. Nothing can be done because one belief contradicts another, and for some unknown reason, the facts don’t matter. Even during those times when an overwhelming belief does compel action, Americans rush headlong into it neglecting the adage that headlong often means wrong. 

The number of programs enacted by the Congress that don’t work is huge. The war on drugs which began in 1969 has shown no measurable results; yet it continues unabated and has resulted in destabilizing other nations, especially Mexico. Various immigration reforms have proven so ineffective that the people are turning to their own solutions. Tough on crime programs have been enacted numerous times without any measurable reduction in criminal behavior. Educational reforms have proven to be illusionary. Inconclusive wars have been and continue to be fought. No one, it appears, ever wants to measure anything by its results. The nation continues to do the same things over and over again expecting different results, an activity Einstein described as insanity.

Paul Craig Roberts writes, “Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it. Truth is an unwelcome entity. It is disturbing. It is off limits. Those who speak it run the risk of being branded ‘anti-American,’ ‘anti-semite’ or ‘conspiracy theorist.’ Truth is an inconvenience for government and for the interest groups whose campaign contributions control government. Truth is an inconvenience for prosecutors who want convictions, not the discovery of innocence or guilt. Truth is inconvenient for ideologues.” Unfortunately he casts the blame on the characters of people: “economists sell their souls for filthy lucre … medical doctors who, for money, have published in peer-reviewed journals concocted ’studies’ that hype this or that new medicine produced by pharmaceutical companies that paid for the ’studies … ‘ Wherever one looks, truth has fallen to money” … //

… Military officers, especially generals, are often cited as experts. But for every general who wins a battle there is another on the other side who loses. Is the losing general an expert too? And what general, facing a upcoming battle would have the integrity to say he can’t win it?

By calling people with opinions experts and relying on adversarial debate between them, not only is the language debased, so is thought. Conclusions drawn from false premises are always false. Just as something cannot be created from nothing, truth cannot be revealed by falsehood. Belief never yields knowledge, but questioning belief often does.

Public policy based on mere beliefs or opinions sooner or later crashes headlong into the wall of reality causing disastrous consequences, for in the end, the truth cannot be denied. “Trust, but verify,” a phrase often used by Ronald Reagan when discussing relations with the Soviet Union is a translation of the Russian proverb Доверяй, но проверяй. Perhaps better maxims would be, “Reject when suspect” and “Belief brings grief.” Yet the fundamental question that goes unanswered is why so many people continue to trust all those “experts” who have shown themselves to be inveterate liars? Has the populace really become that dumb? If the truth is emancipating, the false is enslaving. Indeed Americans are serfs ruled by an oligarchy devoted to the promotion of dumb ideas. (full text).

(John Kozy is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by John Kozy).

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