Where does one find the truth today? There are so many distractions, falsehoods and lies being expounded in our world that it seems that we only catch glimmers of truth here and there. This situation is not helped by the appalling state of academia and what passes for expertise today. Sometimes truth is found, not from the writings of these ‘experts’ but from those who point out the absurdity of their writings. This is often found in the comment section that proceeds the articles that these ‘experts’ write. The following blog gives just two examples of this. (See footnote 1)
The first article, ‘The truth will not set you free‘, (link here) is pseudointellectual nonsense written by a psychotherapist who also teaches at Florida International University. The more interesting and beneficial part of this article is the comment section where a commentator, ‘Raul’, points out the absurdity of the author’s argument. I would recommend checking out the main dialogue between Raul and the author by clicking the link but here are a couple of comments by Raul that refute the author’s assertion that the truth is unknowable:
Raul: ‘if a statement corresponds to a real item it is true. the statement “grass is green” is true if grass is in the real world happens to have grass that is green. if you are color blind you may have a different perception of the truth and be wrong if you think it is grey. but that is not true. you would be absolutely wrong. William Berry contradicts himself in saying that we are incapable of knowing truth. Is that true? childish mistake in reasoning. the statement is contradictory on it’s face. read what he says” the FACT is we can not know TRUTH” the title “the truth is, we can not know truth” is that true?’
Raul: ‘Truth is singular and universal. 2+2 is 4 and not 5 or 6. here and everywhere in the universe. it is 4 regardless whether you know it , or believe it. truth is independent of your belief. that is what makes it absolute and objective. you can believe you can fly with all your heart and truth in reality will introduce you to the law of gravity and that is truth independent of any personal idea of truth. you can not independently define truth. truth is what is real. not perceived, or imagined, or wished. Santa Claus is not true for me or anyone. he is a fairy tale, like it or not. Regardless of what you say or think to be true. if you believed it to be true, you would be, uhmm, what is the word, oh yeah! WRONG. can we say that? or is everyone right? in that case you have become absurd and can no longer dialogue.’
(Personal note: I read this article long before reading anything by the likes of St Thomas Aquinas or before grasping some of the fundamentals of philosophy. I share this interaction as a way of highlighting how a person with some basic understanding of philosophy and a good dose of common sense is able to counteract the nonsense that a psychological professional espouses. I believe that Raul, by pointing out absolute and simple truths, such as ‘2+2=4’ and ‘the grass is green’ and the Santa Claus example, can help to direct souls away from the foolish, proud and disastrous hyper-intellectualising path we can often be on. His comments also remind me of the phrase my father once told me, ‘Don’t forget the bog’, i.e. keep grounded, which I have talked about elsewhere, see here).
This second piece (link here) is a collection of responses from a commentator called, ‘johndoe’ on the website, www.madinamerica.com (See footnote 2). Johndoe’s insightful replies are far closer to the truth of matters than anything that is offered by the various professionals, including a professor of psychiatry, a psychiatrist, a journalist and an acclaimed LGBT author, in their posts. He shows a better grasp of the truth about the human condition than any of these contributors and psychological professionals. This is particularly true in his replies to the articles, ‘Doctor Munchausen: Hear no, See no – What?’, ‘The Lessons of Ancient Philosophy’ and ‘Heteronormative Violence of Mainstream Psychiatry: A Cautionary Tale’. Here are some of his comments that challenge the falsehoods of the authors:
Johndoe – Defending Catholicism Against Marxist criticism: ‘So it is Christianity’s fault, is it? And not, I don’t know, urbanization and industrialization and the consequent break-down of communities? An urbanization and industrialization which was the direct consequence of the weakening of Christianity from the Renaissance onward – think of the relaxation of the Christian prohibition of usury in the XV century and how that led to the birth of Capitalism (which is to say, a return to the economic system of Ancient Rome, an economy based on overt or covert slavery).
As always the paper in question is written from a purely English perspective, i.e. a Protestant perspective, and it therefore ignores the fact that Protestantism is not in fact Christianism but materialism in Christian clothing (read Max Weber, who was on to something even if he didn’t know what himself).’
Pointing out author’s lack of historical knowledge and bias:
‘And of course nowhere in the article a reference to the level of poverty in Ireland back then – you’d think there was a welfare state running in parallel with these evil nuns. Why don’t you take a look at other countries with similar levels of poverty but without evil nuns (i.e. Eastern Europe) and see what happens/ed to teenage mothers and orphans there?
Nothing like a bit of good old Catholic-bashing to give a boost to your career, is there Dr. Healy?’
Johndoe – ‘On reparative therapy‘: ‘Ron, I certainly think you need to look at the (scarce) data there is on reparative therapy rather than repeat misinformation about it. I would ask you to honestly make an effort to look it up (not in Wikipedia) if you have any interest in the truth rather than just confirming your prejudices.
You may want to start with the APA taskforce report, written up by people who absolutely loath reparative therapy, and yet even they could not come up with significant evidence of harm: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf’
When somebody points out the absurdity of such professors and intellectuals, they are often accused of ‘anti-intellectualism’. For example, the current President of Ireland and ex-lecturer, Michael D Higgins, speaks about ‘ant-intellectualism’ being a ‘weapon of anti-democratic forces’, while he simultaneously pushes for his own brand of ‘critical thinking/philosophy’ which is not based on ‘old orthodoxies’, or, in other words, having no foundation in the truth. When the fact is pointed out that the Emperor has no clothes, i.e. modern sociology, modern psychology, psychiatry and modern psychotherapy are promoting nonsense and falsehoods, the intellectuals in these fields, like Michael D Higgins, respond with arrogance and a condescending attitude. They dismiss those who point out these false foundations as ‘uneducated’ or ‘anti-intellectual’ and suggest that they lack the ability to understand the depth and breadth of their arguments. The two pieces above do not prove that the ‘common man’ today has more sense than the intellectual but they do show how far removed intellectuals can be from the truth. The purpose of this post is not to ridicule intellectual pursuits so let me try to briefly outline some advice in relation to intellectuals and ‘experts’, i.e. those who claim to have more knowledge and understanding than the common man.
Humility and docility to the truth are virtues. They are key in assenting to the truth. One must know oneself and understand that there are others who can grasp and understand certain things better than you can. We have a certain level of dependence on others in this regard. St Thomas Aquinas, in explaining why we should be humble and docile to the truths revealed to us by God, offers the following analogy: ‘One can also answer this question by supposing that a certain master has said something concerning his own special branch of knowledge, and some uneducated person would contradict him for no other reason than that he could not understand what the master said! Such a person would be considered very foolish.’ (‘The Catechetical Instructions of St Thomas Aquinas’, p. 4). This analogy works well when the masters are genuinely masters and their knowledge is grounded in truth. In this case, it is humble for the uneducated person to be docile and accept the superior knowledge of the master in that field. Here, St Thomas expresses the need for masters or those of strong intellect to guide those who do not have the same capacity to grasp certain knowledge as they do. This follows a natural order where some people are more skilled than others in certain areas. So far so good, but the question is: are today’s leaders in the academic fields really ‘masters’?
Today, our modern-day intellects in sociology, psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy and various other pseudo-scientific disciplines can try to claim that the ‘uneducated person’ rejects their assertions because they do not understand what they are saying. However, when our modern ‘masters’ are speaking in riddles, when they can’t say whether anything is really true, e.g. ‘2+2=4’ or ‘the grass is green’, when they won’t give any solid definitions about what it is they are talking about, when their statements and theories are in direct contradiction to common sense or fundamental philosophical principles, e.g. a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect, or they are mistaken in important historical facts, then, the uneducated person, who still has an ounce of common sense left in him, should reject their ideas as false or at the very least, see them as highly questionable. Even if a professor with numerous letters after his name is to speak eloquently and beautifully with lots of warmth and passion, one must be careful not to be duped by this appearance of authority and wisdom. We must learn to think for ourselves as Harvard Professor of Philosophy, Charles A. Dubray outlines, ‘Frequently you have relied on the testimony of others; you have learned a text-book and taken it for granted that the author was right. How could do otherwise, for instance, for historical or geographical statements? But this method, which was the only possible one, must not now lead to an exaggerated reverence for all that is found in books or newspapers. For, how many errors are published and how many fallacies are taken for truths simply because they appear in print, or even because they are spoken in brilliant language accompanied by fine gestures. It is necessary to learn how to use one’s own reason and to practice the difficult art of criticism so as to distinguish truth from falsity, and thus to become able to steer one’s own mental life, to think for oneself, and no longer depend too exclusively on the thinking of others.’ (‘Introductory Philosophy’, p. 5). Taking this cautious approach is not anti-intellectualism. It is only acknowledging that people can err while maintaining that there are certain things that are absolutely true.
Let us imagine that St Thomas Aquinas was around today. It is highly likely that he would be appalled at the state of academia and that he would be accused by our modern ‘intellectuals’ as being ‘anti-intellectual’, solely because he loved truth, understood and worked within basic philosophical principles in his theorising, and valued common sense. St Thomas would probably see many of our modern ‘intellectuals’ as crazy and rightly view modern theories and ideas, particularly in relation to God and man, as fables and quackery. As Prof Dubray asserts, ‘Facts, i.e. concrete experiences, both internal and external, and principles, i.e. self-evident propositions, are the necessary bases of thought. If they are rejected, nothing is left but to stop thinking altogether or go to an asylum…’Two and two are four’, ‘a straight line is shorter than a curved uniting the same two points’; ‘the same thing cannot at once be one way and the contradictory way’; ‘I am now thinking and writing’; ‘the paper on which I am writing is white, and the ink I use black;’ ‘I experience a headache,’ etc., are so many assertions of which I am certain that, should any one try to destroy or even weaken this certitude, I should at once suspect his seriousness or his mental sanity.’ (‘Introductory Philosophy’, p. 380-381). St Thomas may be able to have a good conversation with ‘Raul’ or ‘johndoe’ but he most certainly would be questioning the sanity and seriousness of psychological professionals who teach error in universities and fill influential websites with absurdities. Alas, in our current times, St Thomas would probably be the one who would be seen as obstinate, crazy and perhaps diagnosed as having ‘oppositional deviant disorder’ for not willing to admit that there is no such thing as truth or for saying that the grass is definitely green!
‘Learn how to use one’s own reason and to practice the difficult art of criticism so as to distinguish truth from falsity‘
Before finishing this article, it is best to leave a word of warning lest this article be seen as dismissing all expertise and being overly praiseworthy of the opinion of the ‘common man’. In criticising the current state of academia and the lack of wisdom and understanding of academics and masters, let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The solution is not to overestimate our own intellectual capacity or knowledge and only follow what our minds tell us without consulting others. This is tempting in our current times as the so-called experts in many fields, e.g. psychology, sociology, theology, are so misinformed. However, the danger of being overly skeptical about expertise in general is that it tends to lead to subjectivism and increased intellectual pride in ourselves. Today, there are so many academics speaking nonsense eloquently and with apparent sophistication that we are tempted to associate eloquence and sophistication with nonsense and falsehoods! St. Augustine warns us against this prejudice in our reasoning by reminding us that ‘A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.‘ The blunt factory worker may be right sometimes and wrong other times while the well-spoken academic may also be right sometimes and wrong at others. We still must engage our reason when deciding what to believe. Let us not dismiss or scorn intellectual pursuits or the quest for knowledge and understanding because of how bad the current academic environment is and how much eloquent and articulate rubbish is coming from it. Let us try not to let our reasonable skepticism verge into cynicism. There is a thirst for truth in each one of us. It is true that this thirst is not being fulfilled in schools or universities today. Instead of students receiving the refreshment of the truth they crave, they are being given fables and myths that confuse the mind and titillate the lower faculties. As these tales resemblance truth they may give some brief joy or peace but as they are not the genuine article they fail to satiate the deep longings of the intellect and soul. However, instead of dismissing all expertise let us go back to the likes of those who spoke the truth simply and also magnificently. This is the likes of St Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, and other genuine masters, such as St Augustine and St Bonaventure. Let us soak in the truth they offer us and protect and nourish it.
Finally, let us keep our eyes and mind open for the truth. Sometimes, it is spoken magnificently and other times it is found in the internet equivalent of the subway walls and tenement halls as shown above. Wherever we find it let us still soak it in and let it change our hearts and minds so that we can, ultimately, delight eternally in Truth Himself.
Footnote 1: The following two pieces are from websites that I used to frequent regularly until I finally realised the amount of errors that were emanating from them. The website Psychology Today provides a platform where psychological ‘experts’ have a place to provide their ‘professional’ opinion despite not understanding what man is nor understanding what leads to true happiness and peace of mind and soul.
Footnote 2: Mad In America is another website I used to visit until I realised how many errors and falsehoods they push, e.g. promotion of homosexuality, feminism and Marxism.