Thinking about knowledge truthfulness as a spectrum. There is an objective truth on some point of the spectrum, however, one side of the spectrum has what sounds like the truth, but isn’t, and the other side, false, sounds false, or provably false. This spectrum is more for things that are less defined than more defined. For example, one plus one is very defined and that spectrum would not be very interesting. However, when you look at “the best individual human diet for health” that spectrum gets very messy. On one side of that spectrum can be the twinkie diet or maybe even the air diet (yes, those are things), while the other side can be veganism. But how do you figure out where your truth is?
How likely is a point on the spectrum wrong
Because the number of points on the diet spectrum is infinite, unlike one plus one, the probability of a point being wrong is almost certain. The goal is to be as close as possible to the correct answer or optimum global point. But first you need to understand the traps that lie on this spectrum.
The sounds true trap is a common trap, but one of little interest to me as its where most unthinking people fall. It is easy to get out by simply thinking about it. You need to eat three meals a day is an example here (have you ever missed a meal).
The “everyone thinks this” trap is the first thinking person trap and is usually the safe option. Think like the herd and there are no conflicts, but this hardly makes it true. All vegetables are good for you fall into this one (there are very poisonous vegetables).
The edgy community trap is the most entertaining one to me. It is a subset of the trap above but with a twist of desire to be different than everyone else. Fruitarians and air diet advocates are good examples here.
The big lie trap is the lie from the media pushing some narrative because it benefits someone who is funding the message. Vegetable oil is heart healthy is an example of the big lie (search how its made).
There are many other traps in this spectrum. If you were a marble, rolling down this landscape trying to find a global minima, these are the places you would probably get caught before reaching the goal.
Most traps are developed by an industry and usually by having the same message repeated to you over and over again. When you hear something often enough without questioning it, it becomes similar to truth and feels like your truth but almost definitely isn’t.
But I Don’t Have the Time
Most people don’t have the time to research everything, and I completely understand this. I am not saying research everything. I personally have developed guides as to what needs research and what doesn’t, and am always open to being wrong. One example of a guide is the level of impact being wrong about something has. I usually know I am close to the truth when I continually question something but don’t find anything else to explore. I always listen to those I disagree with most. And if they are open to it, I talk about why I disagree. I don’t do this to “teach” them or show how smart I am, but more as a way of saying “this is my position, please show me how I am wrong given this additional information”. If they are honest, they will consider my added information and counter with new information for me to digest. If they are not honest, they usually attack me. This is a sign that they don’t want to challenge their own views and you should find someone else that disagrees with you to learn from. Most of the things I have learned from others were because I questioned them and ended up being wrong. If you don’t question, they simply repeat the previously mentioned traps that have already been stepped over and you learn nothing.
Why I Use Diet for my Examples
I could have easily used investments, economics, or many other topics as examples. I have chosen diet as everyone is impacted by this on some level--we all need to eat--and everyone could benefit from thinking about their diet (even the healthiest health nut). I don’t have any issues with any other diet, even the unhealthy ones (most I think), what I have issue with is people thinking their diet or position is the correct one without exploring and researching others and just falling in a trap. If you are not open to other things, you will never find your truth.
If you think about the likelihood of something sounding true enough and aligning with other things you hold as true, which benefits an industry, the odds are that those are the things others hold as truth. A good example of this is coffee. Every time some new compound that happens to be found in the 1000 plus compounds in coffee, you see a flood of articles about the benefits of coffee. This happens for 2 reasons, one, the media loves telling people what they are doing is good, and two, the crazy large coffee industry will pay for those messages. However, the number of compounds that are discovered dangerous are never talked about (there are many of those). If you got a balance of that information, you might just cut back on your coffee.
To find your truth you should always question your actions, information, and beliefs if not you will follow someone else’s truth and not your own. This will benefit others when you should concentrate on benefiting yourself. Always ask yourself if you might be in a trap, this will also help you adapt to new information.