A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Friday, March 18, 2011

Truth Is Like Rattlesnakes

Photo [1]

Truth is like rattlesnakes; if you have one in the house and ignore it, it will eventually bite you. Truth is like a rattlesnake in other ways. It can hide in places that seem impossible to get into. It can hide in plain sight. When you get bitten you won’t know when, where or the details of the consequences of its happening.

And even more: truth can be really ugly and frightening, and it often gives warnings [2]. Truth usually can’t be dealt with by half measures; putting a high visibility yellow flag on the in-house rattler, like on a recumbent bicycle, won’t do.

Imagine a group of people sitting around a snake trying to decide if it’s really there; might be a shadow, a stick or a surprising pattern in the rug. But no matter how the discussion goes, it is either a snake or it’s not – no Erwin Schrödinger required, unless of course he happens to be right.

But, clearly I have left out something very important. What sort of people would put rattlesnakes loose in their houses? Without that happening, then this is just some crazy writing by a crazy guy (see footnote 2). The whole analogy stands or falls on people having incredibly mad relationships with very dangerous things:

Here are some things that we might find lying in or around peoples' houses: Guns, cars, overpopulation, insecticides, herbicides, antibiotic resistant bacteria, armies, dams, fungicides, nuclear bombs, lead, mercury, misuse and distortion of credit, genetically engineered foods, EMFs, fossil fuels, cosmetics, ecological collapse, antibiotic soaps, nuclear generation of electricity, mine tailings, corporate media, industrial waste, medical malpractice and incompetence, economic growth, formaldehyde, wrong headed belief systems, reduced biodiversity, slavery, MSG, wealth, ignorance, UV radiation, the economic elite, TV, pharmaceutical malpractice, water quality, food insecurity (both quality and quantity), plutocracy, oligarchy, fascism,… oh yeah, and rattlesnakes!

[1] This a 4 ½ foot western diamondback that almost bit one of my daughters when we were berry picking; now there is some truth for you parents out there.

[2] In defense of rattlesnakes, many are actually very beautiful if you can get passed the biting, injecting poison, terrible pain, damage and death part. I do not kill them any more, but I once had a rattler head in my fridge, right up in the front – you know where you keep the milk – and would jump whenever I opened the door; I enjoyed that right up to the moment when I didn’t like it anymore. This is a lot like how we deal with hard truth.

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