How factual must something be in order for it to be accepted as truth? #believability


(denise wheeler) #1

I’m throwing this out there as my first topic participation…

I’m working on a book that is kind of rewriting history, or at least some of that narrative that has been historically accepted. And in doing so, I’m continuously having to ask myself, “How can this be? How can so many things be so historically accepted when they’re blatantly not true?”

So, I’m just curious to see how others feel about this, if it really is that easy to accept things, simply because it’s the standard tale, or if facts truly are essential in order for it to be believed?

In other words, how do we know that the Wright Brothers really got off the ground at Kitty Hawk? And that Edison came up with the light bulb, etc.? Is it enough for history simply to say so or must there always be proof?

Thanks so much, and hope it inspires some great thoughts!


(Bill Ames) #2

This is a very important question. Before we developed cameras and sound recorders all things that may have happened required people to believe they did to make them a “fact.” Now things that did happen that people do not think so occurred may eventually lose any connection to “fact.” Religions all started back when belief was required to carry them along. Science writes things down, and we refer to them. Each time you fly in an airplane you fly regardless if you believe it can fly or not.

We are also opening up to questioning who people are. For example, here on Ideapod, how can we know that a person we are reading posts from or writing a response, is a real person and not an AI? How can you know that a post you get is from a person and not some AI?

You ask how factual something must be but if we agree that anything that is proposed as factual must pass the same test. All of the facts used to show something as true is only true if the “facts” are true.

In this day of the internet, everything has become just someone’s storyboard. I have seen the world of the early 50s and enjoyed it and know what was there. When I look at the same places today on google maps street view, it is all changed.

I grew up on science fiction and witnessed our climb to the moon, that was when my science fiction became a reality. I knew the world well before computers and flat-screen TVs and GPS.

The “truth” is what you believe it is; this works for 90 percent of humanity. The other 10 percent keep the rest alive.


(Justin Brown) #3

I often wonder the same things. It’s often very powerful people that provide the narratives by which we understand what’s happening.

Have you come across the work of Howard Zinn? This book was very influential for me when I was studying politics many years ago:

In this book Zinn retells the history of the United States from the perspective of the “vanquished”, the “downtrodden”, the people who didn’t have power.

It’s such a beautiful book and really shaped my own perspective about history. It also helped me to understand that we often have figureheads such as Martin Luther King who are needed to spur revolution, but they are only effective when they provide a bit of direction for what many people are already working to achieve through their actions.

As Howard Zinn says: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world.”


What notable person has had a significant impact on who you became in the world today?
(denise wheeler) #4

@justinbrown That’s so interesting you bring up Zinn. I bought the book years ago, but never got to it. It’s one of those things that always slips by you when you have a pack of young kids. But I know of his work and ideals and that voice of his that was quite treasured and feared. I’m surprised a movie hasn’t been done on him. He is definitely one of those monumental characters.

However, I was recently reading about James Connolly, that Irish Easter Rising rebel, and was surprised to learn how hardcore he was since he had always been painted so saintly. But I started to think, “Hmm… who have we had in the US like him?” and Zinn, of course came to mind.

But Connolly was a unionist. He founded two of the big unions, and from what I can tell quite militant. So it seems he was all about disturbing things, while Zinn appears to have been more about pulling back those curtains. Yet they both strived to seek honestly and in many ways try to restore it.

So thanks. Your note made me remember that history should always serve humanity, not selectively vanquish it.


(denise wheeler) #5

@BillAmes Thanks so much. That’s great, especially your last statement. The “truth” is what you believe it is; this works for 90 precent of humanity. The other 10 percent keep the rest alive.

You should put that on a bumper sticker. :smile:


(Patrick Phelps) #6

What is history but a single person’s perspective of what “factually” happened? Every one of us rewrites history from our own understanding, our own perspective, and of course our own motivation. You say you are writing a book that is rewriting history? As you write, you will include facts that back up your version of the events. Others have written books that discount your version and have presented a different narrative.

Another respondent to your post mentioned the internet, cameras and sound recorders. These things do not tell history, but only snippets from the whole. Each day we are inundated with propaganda intended to program us into believing things in a certain way. The wars in the Middle East, the social issues of the world, bogus scientific and religious nonsense…what is the purpose? In reality there has never been a time in all of history in which history can be trusted. We all tell it the way we want.


(Bill Ames) #7

This is true even in fiction. Some popular works have left the backstory to the imagination of the reader or viewer. Characters are introduced but not explained. Fans are more than willing to fill in the missing story. If you look at what the writers of today’s TV programs think is rational behavior for selected subsets of humanity you soon realize they have no real clue how humanity got as dysfunctional as the writers portray them. If you watch normal people engaged in religion, politics, social activities you can see they behaving as they learned from the TV and movies they grew up with.

Unfortunately we have all gone down the rabbit hole with Alice and we are paying the price for not getting a proper education. I can not feel bad for humanity or fix it, all I can do is set some examples in my writing for acceptable behavior. People will believe only what enables them to feel good, no matter how wrong those beliefs may be. What is acceptable as truth nowadays? Easy, don’t drink the water, the stove is hot, cook the chicken well, gravity kills. All very factual.


(Patrick Phelps) #8

How true. What is most sad is that so many people feel good only when they are feeling lousy!

I suppose when it is all said and done that truth and facts are not the same creature. Truth is as abstract and fleeting as the wind…always shifting…never staying the same. Facts are a bit more steadfast, but can also be manipulated to fit the agenda. History is a compendium of fact, truth, fiction, opinion, motivation, and guesswork. In the last Presidential election, half the nation thought Trump was a savior while the other half thought he was Hitler reincarnated…and the same for Clinton. Today Fox News hails Trump as a hero and CNN decries him as a villain. Both sides use facts and truth, yet both tell history in dramatically different ways. Who is correct? I guess it is as you said…some people will feel good through their support of the President while others will feel good through their hatred of him.