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, as, for example, I managed
to rediscover the expression of General Relativity at
the age of 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)
to solve them. As this is all very long, I finally also wrote
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 :)
- it seems many people are searching the web for criticism of
this "Truth Contest",
- now having one more look, I see that he did not make any
correction of some needed kind,
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
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
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:
- By being a better skilled truth seeker oneself, may it be in
intelligence, in rational examination, in experience, in
learning about many views and arguments, etc.
- By developing some sort of bureaucracy, or collective
organization, any ways by which the views of different people
can interact and try to refute each other, that aims to be a
better logical structure of interaction more likely to lead
people to correctly select the truth, than the natural
anarchical ways in which the different views are already
interacting in the world. (Actually, I think that among many
other purposes, my software
project can effectively bring that kind of progress.)
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
- This is in direct total contradiction with his loud
methodological declaration that only ideas should matter but
people and authors shouldn't matter
- Even if it was true that someone is the best truth seeker of
the world, such a reality would be technically
incompatible with the technical act of declaring that one is
organizing a Truth Contest. Because, technically, even if is
true that someone is the best truth seeker of the world, the act
of declaring this cannot bring anything to the debate.
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
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."
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.
"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?"
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.
- To be true
- Among all possibly existing truths, he expects one that
should more precisely the Ultimate and Universal one (assuming
such a truth to exist better than any set of all sets
which is ruled out by Russell's paradox)
- To be simply understandable and "rationally" verifiable so as
to easily convince a large majority of the currently present
human specimens on the Earth planet at this precise time of its
many-million-years-long history of concious life, disregarding
how dumb and irrational most of these specimens may be
- To unite all people
- To resolve the world's problems
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
You want a Universal Truth that all people can understand, agree and
join, and with which the world can change ? Okay, no problem, you
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
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:
- His fallacies are just another repetition of that same
stupidity contest that is widespread in religions and
- In particular, he accuses the usual practice of existing
religions of being too intellectual, which they are'nt.
- He has no bit of evidence that his "method" towards the truth
can ever reveal any effective truth to anyone. He just puts
forward his dream that getting rid of all rational knowledge
will once suddenly provide a magic path to a divine, universal
knowledge. Dreams and speculations can be nice but need to be
checked against experience in order to be acceptable as the
truth. So, I would have no a priori against it, any more than
against the Bible or anything. However, away from nice a priori
guesses and speculations, I happened to discern from logic and
experience that such nice hypothesis just happen to be
incompatible with the reality that we can observe. Because, if there
existed anyone on Earth with a divine knowledge, it would have
consequences. And, since there is none, while so many
millions of people tried their best already (from diverse
religions), thus all in vain, isn't it foolish to pretend that
we must just keep trying, pretending that the magic effects are
close to reach ? Remember the saying : insanity is trying the
same thing over and over again and expecting different result.
Just like playing Lotto, or pretending oneself to be much better
than others to be able to succeed what everyone else failed,
maybe. So, not that I would dislike such claims to be true, I
just know that they (unfortunately) do not fit with the reality
of human life and possibilities.
- Another author (with whom I don't always agree, but...) wrote
of almost the same doctrine.
Other people's questions and remarks
wrote a very long
and interesting list of questions to the authors of the Truth
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
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
Some links of interest for any Truth Contest worthy of this
website (by a team of different authors holding different views)
with a list
Forums of religious
A large list of Atheism vs.
Another (not as big)
of atheism vs. theism debates.
Other links of debating
Back to main page : Anti-spirituality website