The "Truth Contest" delusion

by Sylvain Poirier

When I first stumbled upon the "Truth contest" site, it all looked like its purpose was highly honorable:

"...contest to find and spread the truth about life and death, the ultimate truth. People who enter  may represent philosophy, science, religion, or themselves.  Any seers or prophets out there?

Truth Contest is not a competition with a winner. It is just the best way to find, define and spread the truth. The most clear, complete and accurate explanation of the truth will be on top followed by the next best. Everyone wins, because we will have the best entries together. It doesn't matter who writes it, what is said is all that matters.

Entries are evaluated using the evidence, critical reason, logic, common sense, and scientific methods. It has to make sense and be supported by the evidence. We are looking for the kind of truth you can check
."

But then, when looking further in the list of proposed doctrines, I noticed it was, to say the least, far from complete, as these doctrines are all of the traditional sort of spiritualist worldviews, rather idiot, foolish, and anyway at the antipodes of reason.

I understood he may have been only at the beginning of his project, he said he did not receive yet any submission for the defense of the rational, scientific approach to the truth. So, I started a more systematic writing my worldview, which I developed entirely by rational means (as a mathematician with special abilities of rational analysis having rediscovered the expression of General Relativity when I was 16), with a long experience (I have been Evangelical Christian, then discovered the falsity of Christianity and analyzed its errors in details and had many tries of debates with people of different views on different topics).

Before this, I had already written about what is wrong with spirituality, a panorama of the causes of many of the world's problems (the causes of misunderstandings between people, as well as many other problems) and how to solve them. As this is all very long, I finally also wrote a short summary of my views.

I wrote to the webmaster of the "Truth Contest", proposing him to include a link to my writings in his list of candidate truths. I also debated with him about diverse troubles with his site, the flaws and ridiculous hubris of his claims of being the world center of the search for truth, in sharp contrast with the terrible situation of what his site is actually doing.
This was already a few years ago. I was very patient. I forgot about it since then. He had all the time to either develop his site to make it finally become worth something (for example, at least by including a more diverse list of candidate views of life), and/or delete whatever ridiculous claims in his site of pretending to be anything special that it clearly isn't.
But finally, as
well, I considered my duty to write down this one :)

Why it is nothing special

He wants to review the different candidate truths, check by reason which one is best, and then publish the conclusion and hope all people will be convinced and agree.
The only problem is, who (among the many people in the world who feel concerned about matters of truth) isn't already doing the same ?
Isn't it of course everybody's try to do so: whenever anybody holds some view, it is of course because this view seemed to be the best (most true) view to this person, in the context of his experience, over any other view that he happened to know about.
Is there anyone on Earth that, when expressing a view on anything, isn't implicitly a person that operated and keeps operating a Truth Contest in his own mind, comparing his views to any other view that he happened to hear about, and selecting his own conclusions as the one view that won his internal Truth Contest over other views ?

But in this case, how is this web site of "Truth Contest" any different from any web site presenting any other views, the views that happened to win each of the internal Truth Contests happening in the minds of their respective authors ?

Of course this general situation of coexistence of many views in the world does not seem satisfying, since all these truth contests happened to lead different people to lead different conclusions, so that we may legitimately wonder if there would be any means to do better. But just noticing that the current situation is not satisfying and declaring that one wishes to do better by operating a truth contest between the different views, does not suffice to make one automatically the world center of the search for truth, because... well of course everybody already noticed that it is a pity to see many other people failing in their search for truth, so that we are somehow not living in an ideal world.

So, he took the bold decision to set up a web site where he would would loudly declare that he is undertaking to do better. Is that fine ? Of course it would be nice to do better. I would even say that it is actually possible to do better. But... once again, who doesn't already wish to do better ?
And how, in practice, would it be possible to do better ? What can be the methods, the criteria ? Different people may have different ideas about it.

It is possible to technically develop rather good practices of reason. For example, in mathematics and other scientific fields, there was the development of the peer-review system, where the works of some authors were reviewed and validated by other experts in the field before publication. Which can only work well, however, if there is already some kind of well-established pre-selection of who is qualified to operate such reviews. Which wasn't always the case, for example with the journal "Social Text" during the Sokal affair.

So, how to do better ? The problem is, while it can be actually possible to do better, is it anyhow technically possible to have any connection with the loud declaration that one is trying to do better ? Precisely, the possible meaningful tries of "ways to do better" can roughly be classified in 2 categories (if you have any idea of a meaningful way that fits in none of these categories, please tell me !).
The author of the "Truth Contest" site, seems to have chosen the first way. The problems are:
Indeed, the act of declaring that you are making a Truth Contest web site, in order to be technically meaningful (informative, worth saying), requires on a logical, technical level, that you are exploring the second kind of try to do better, that is the bureaucratic kind.

My point here is not to argue which of both ways is best. Just that one must be aware that :

Whenever someone tries to do better than the average people, and especially when one is bold enough to declare to the world one's try to do better, as far as to make this declaration of try the main title of one's Web site presenting itself as the world-center of the search for Absolute Truth,

Then it is at least necessary to be at clear that this declaration of intent cannot be taken seriously unless the author subjects himself to some high level of duty of some sort. And in particular, to clarify in which way does he think his action differ from anyone else's.

Which, I think, for this declaration to mean something, it requires to explicitly choose at least one of both above options how it is conceivable to consider a truth seeking project as something better than what millions of other people already did. And to remain coherent with this choice.

An obligation, to which this site utterly failed, it seems.

His excuse to dismiss my arguments

To my tries to explain him things, his main reply was
"You are losing me in complicated intellectual jargon, please be more specific in what you are trying to say.  We are looking for truth that can be checked, by anyone who wants to seek and check it out for themselves."

"You say things in such confusing and overly-intellectual ways that would be very hard for people to understand or even read.  The majority of people are not intellectuals.  Keep that in mind.  How will an explanation of the ultimate truth of life and death unite people if they can't even read or comprehend the words in it?
"
Sorry but I don't agree with his accusations. I don't see any special jargon in my writings. Precisely I care to explain all my findings in common language, the same language as anyone. Except that I use the common language to explain things that may be too subtle concepts for the ordinary dumb people. I do a lot of efforts of explanations and clarifications, but I cannot completely and faithfully turn some deep understandings into some obvious slogan that anyone can understand without any effort of getting out of their usual stupidity. I speak the language of intelligent truth, of how things actually are. But it's not my fault if many people don't have the brain to understand any non-trivial truths.

He does not have a clue about what it really means to "evaluate something using the evidence, critical reason, logic, common sense, and scientific methods"

Seriously. What scientific abilities does he have ? He has no word about it, under the excuse that the truth is not a matter of people, but of content.

Actually, the practice of reason and science, is an activity for those who have the ability to do it. Just taking the decision that "I'm going to examine this scientifically", as a mere intention, and even more especially when wanting to do this about an expected "Ultimate Truth of Life" that was'nt yet "of course" known to the many scientists and other truth seekers of the past, does not suffice to give oneself the qualification to effectively, correctly, successfully do so.

If science is a profession that not everybody can practice, if the many humans that were on Earth since many millenia had not succeeded to develop science earlier than they did, and it takes many years of study and a very hard selection to make a community of people able to practice science and reason in any difficult field of science (as most scientific fields are at least somehow difficult, to discover things that, well, were not yet known in previous millenia), well, it is not just for the pleasure of segregating the rest of people. But it is because the genuine practice of reason and truth discernment on any issue is not just a matter of desire to discern the truth (as billions of people did desire but failed to acheive, should't this at least suggest that there is some difficulty to do it properly beyond mere desires), but also a matter of skill (intelligence), experience of research and criticism of different views, knowledge of many things...

But more precisely, the views he defends as the "absolute truth" are exactly among the most stupid, untrue, anti-rational views that can be found. That is roughly just one more version of the traditional views of spiritualities and religions, which (together with the natural dumbness of many humans) were one of the main obstacles to any earlier discovery of science.

This sort of traditional religious and "spiritualist" view, are the very views that consist in praising stupidity and ignorance. Because, well, as all people were dumb and ignorant in the past, the only way they could find to feel well with themselves and not be ashamed of "feeling lost" in their ignorance, was to redefine "knowledge" and "ignorance" in a way that actually consists in making a dialectic inversion between them, to willingly practice the deepest and most absolute dumbness and ignorance and self-persuade this would be the very definition of knowledge, in order to no more be able to figure out how dumb and ignorant they are, and thus get a feeling that they are above the ignorant other people who are at least aware of their ignorance...

His expectations are absurd

He has many requirements on the Truth he is seeking for: he wants it to combine many advantages
and I'm not sure what more requirements he is are having.

But, as long as he doesn't have it yet, how can he predict that these many requirements are compatible, and that something fulfilling all them together would be possible ?

In the name of what can he dare to assume that, first of all and prior to any kind of search or examination, we miserable humans should give ourselves a legitimate right to submit The Real Truth of the Universe to the obligation of passing all the above selection criteria for being possibly qualified as a candidate worth examination and debate for a Truth Contest ?

A solution satisfying his main effective requirements already existed, but...

You want a Universal Truth that all people can understand, agree and join, and with which the world can change ? Okay, no problem, you can find.
Such a thing already happened 1 century ago.
There was a truth that convinced and united "all people" (well, expect of course some mentally ill people that needed to be reeducated in gulags), and by which they changed the world. Many philosophers accepted it, and even had a high consideration towards it, they saw it as a model of philosophy, reason, scientific method and understanding of the world.

The only problem with this Universal Truth, was that it was just a little bit... untrue.
Many scientists and some philosophers knew it was total bullshit and completely irrational, but still large numbers of other people would never have cared to hear their warnings. Instead, they dismissing these criticism, as things too.... intellectual, not well understandable, and therefore awfully elitist and undemocratic.

I'm speaking of course about Marxism. Wonderfully unifying doctrine, isn't it ?
And still now again many people are repeating this experience.
And, well, there was already nothing new there anyway. Most religions claimed each one to be the Ultimate truth and the way to unify all humans, didn't they ? So... what's new ????

I have a candidate Truth of this kind to offer

Seriously ! While nothing in the universe has the duty to please the miserable humans on the Earth planet, to such a point as to let anything combining the above criteria to be even possible, I incidentally happened to have discovered and expressed a really true, short, amazing, clear and self-evident view of a rather specific but essential and widely ignored aspect of the Ultimate Truth on the sense of life, with which I challenge anyone to coherently express any significant disagreement once read. I'd say, if you want a Ultimate Truth on the sense of life that is not only easily understandable, but also that is actually true and able to unify (many) people, and where you actually learn a lot on the sense of life just by reading it, with no need of any external source of evidence, this is indeed a proposition worth reviewing !
However I'm afraid the author of the Truth Contest website still won't like it. Go figure why.

What's wrong with the content of his "truth" anyway ?

Many things might be said. Here are just a few:

Other people's questions and remarks

Someone wrote a very long and interesting list of questions to the authors of the Truth contest site.

Another message I received:
Stumbled across your page criticizing the truth contest after stupidly clicking on a youtube link out of sheer curiosity and boredom. I'm not exactly a philosopher, rather just a student, but a couple years of religion classes have made me quite proficient at finding fault with other people twisting their reasoning to stuff their perceptions into the unsuspecting. I didn't get through very much of "the present (with religion)" because, to be blatantly honest, I lost attention due to the level of stupidity and lack of any organized thought process, or argument for that matter. From what I did get through, though, I noticed these things:

1) "Just the truth: The truth about life and death can be explained without any reference to religion, and some people may prefer that, but more than half of the human race is involved in a religion. Thus, to be the ultimate explanation of the truth, it must include religion, all religions. This is the only way to unite us all."
- Unity = excluding the couple of billion people who happen to not be involved in a religion? - "it must include all religions"- Yet, for the first 8 pages, the only religion truly referenced (back-asswardly, might I add) is Christianity

2) "The truth and the life has to be God, so people that ignore the truth or give other things priority are saying by their actions and their desires that they do not want to know God."
- This simply reeks of Catholicism. But of course, we're including "all religions" here, per say?

3) "Most of the Bible and other old religious books are the interpretations, opinions, and the bias of many different uninspired people, and not what Jesus and other inspired prophets actually said or meant... the official Bible... was created by the enemies of Christianity... Most of what Jesus said was never even written down in the language he spoke.
The early interpreters did not know the truth. To interpret what a prophet says, you have to know the truth."
- ...yet he quotes these works, which he just claimed invalid and untrue, throughout his "book", in proof of the "absolute truth" (strange, this is also a term I first encountered strictly regarding CATHOLIC beliefs).... So a book of true truth is being supported by what the author himself already recognized as mere stories falsely portrayed as truth. Solid.

4) "In the past, almost no one could know the truth. Now, almost everyone can." Simply false. The entire purpose of the website is a SEARCH for the truth, whatever it may be, indicating that insofar NOBODY KNOWS what "truth" really is (or at least they haven't convinced the rest of the world of their revelations yet)

5) "Repetition: If something is repeated, it makes a bigger impression and changes your brain more, changes your inner environment more. Thus, the more repetition, the better. That is why I repeat some things many times and say the same thing many different ways. TV advertisers repeat commercials for this reason."
- Is he implying that his book has about the same amount of validity and worth as a commercial? Because that's how it seems
- By admitting that he is simply using repetition to change people's brain more, he is basically conceding to forcing this "truth" onto others, whether they want it or not, by imprinting his own ideas in their heads.

6) "I am giving it to you the same way it was given to me. The ultimate truth is like a combination to a lock; it has to be in a certain order, and you need all of it to open the gate to true life." - Tell me now, who gave him this ultimate truth? Who was the source of ultimate truth as he understands it?

7) None of this so far has used any science, reasoning, or even rational thinking in its justification. It is mere statements, repeated in various ways, and separated by unrelated and unincorporated quotes.

8) Why bother with a "truth contest" open to "all ideas" anyways if some group of college students is going to censor what they deem "worthy". I understand that they obviously can't have a million submissions, but judging by the quality and content of the site, they don't anyways.

This is as far as I got. Like I said before, boredom caught up to me before the "truth" did. I'm sure there are plenty more inconsistent and contradictory statements to poke fun at, but I don't particularly feel up to trudging through an entire "book" of this bullshit.

I'm sure most of these have already been realized, but felt a need to translate to "plain english", although this level is probably still too sophisticated for the "average human" to understand according to the author of a book who encourages ignorance and lack of thought.

If you have more comments to add, either as a text or as a link to a page elsewhere, sorry that this page does not work as a blog but you may still write me (trustforum at gmail.com) and I can add it here.

I might add more

The email conversation I had with him was quite long. I may someday review it, and quote and comment more of it, to complete the present page.

Their line of defense in reply to this criticism

Here is a message I got. You can admire the depth of their wisdom and debating skills :
From : King Chuch <kingchuch@gmail.com>
Date: March 26, 2014 23:43
Subject : regarding: antispirituality.net/truthcontest.htm

You should take down this page: antispirituality.net/truthcontest.htm - It is flat out dumb, wrong, and is deterring people from one of the most truthful and promising websites on the internet.

Your site is an exercise of schizophrenic ramblings from an ego-maniac. If you are a diagnosed schizophrenic, I apologize for that statement, but I do not revoke it. I was actually encouraged to find a criticism of Truth Contest in my Google search, but your site as a whole contains absolutely NOTHING useful, and the criticism itself is unfounded and ridiculous.

"You are losing me in complicated intellectual jargon, please be more specific in what you are trying to say...You say things in such confusing and overly-intellectual ways that would be very hard for people to understand or even read."

Normally, as a retired professor of physics, I would scowl at such a response, but the "webmaster" is right on this time. Your site is full of run-on sentences stuffed with big words that lead absolutely fucking nowhere, and trust me, I tried to get through most of it, as a neutral, rational reader.

You are doing the truth seekers of the world a MAJOR disservice by putting out such an incredibly stupid "criticism" of Truth Contest. Please consider removing the page from the internet, for the sake of humanity and our quest for truth.

Sincerely,

Alan

(I previously got another message from someone else but it was rather a draft of message and the author never replied after I replied something and asked him if he meant to be serious and to have the discussion public)

Some links of interest for any Truth Contest worthy of this name:

Religious tolerance website (by a team of different authors holding different views) with a list of links

Project Worldview

Forums of religious debates:

A large list of Atheism vs. Theism Debates

Another (not as big) list of atheism vs. theism debates.

Other links of debating God.


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