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Truth: The Final Frontier

Being a rambling commentary on the rather wonderful rambling commentary provided by my good and excellent friend and foe, Jehanine, Mistress of the Blessed Ocarina, Prophetus Patheticus Majesticus and all round good use of long chain protiens and essential vitamins and minerals.

Some of you may well have looked at Mistress Jehanine's list of Truths and come to the following conclusion: "Yes, well, it's all well and good to compare and contrast our modern beliefs with those ancient beliefs, but they didn't know as much as we do now, did they? I mean, we know so much more now, so our Truths are obviously better truths than theirs. I mean, they didn't even have TV, so how advanced could they be..." and so forth.

So, for the benefit of the philosophically challenged, I will spend a brief and pointless moment demonstrating that none of the Seven Deadly Truths presented at the start of Jehanine's delightful epistle are absolutely true.

  1. 2+2=4
  2. Ah yes, we all Know that 2 + 2 = 4. Our entire economy depends on it. At least, 2 + 2 = 4 in every number base above base 4. In base 4, 2 + 2 = 10. In base 3, 2 + 2 = 11. And that's only dealing with all the boring forms of number systems out there. Give a pint of beer to any student of mathematics and they will very tediously demonstrate to you that the conclusion that 2 + 2 = 4 is dependent on the rules on which your number system are based on. And there's absolutely nothing absolute about the system we tend to use. It doesn't describe reality any more accurately than any number of other representational systems. And all this assumes that '4' represents the number four, and '2' represents the number two. Personally I think it looks like a swan, and I don't like swans. They pick on the ducks, just because they happen to be big and white. The swans that is. The ducks don't tend to be big and white, except for the giant mutant Aylesbury ducks, but they have very little interest in mathematics, I hear.

  3. The speed of light is constant.
  4. Ah! Mr. Anal declares (or Miss. Anal. Or Ms. Anal. But I choose to be sexist and make my arbitrary embodiment of Anality male). Surely you can't argue with this. They've proved this one. Well, your humble Polyfather knows his astrophysics quite well and can tell you categorically that the speed of light is not even remotely constant. In fact, the speed of light in water, in air, and in a vacuum are all completely different. Give any physicist a pint of beer and they will tell you so, after vomiting in the corner because they can't take their alcohol. They may, however, offer an alternative, namely that the speed of gravity is a constant. However, we've never directly measured the speed of gravity, and even if we had we'd have great difficulty proving it was always that speed (maybe it slowed down when we started measuring it, afraid we'd give it a ticket...). Indeed, all of our astrophysics, like all our mathematics, proceeds from certain assumptions. Without these assumptions, we couldn't say too much about the universe, but since we have to make those assumptions to even begin to talk about the Universe, we can hardly say any of physics is absolute either.

    Of course, we can say that the speed of light is constant if we define it to be constant. But that's not much basis for absolute assertions. I might just as well say that you are an idiot because I define you as an idiot. But why should I, when every politician and newspaper editor on the planet will say it. No, I'd rather say you are a sweet and kind organism, with at least two buttocks. It might not be true, but I happen to believe it.

  5. People exist.
  6. Aha! Now we can fight philosophy with philosophy, you may be thinking. After all "I think therefore I am". Surely people exist. Well, the trouble with "I think therefore I am" is that no-one has really been able to demonstrate that thinking is evidence of existence. After all, if thinking is a genuine test of existence, then it should be possible to fail the test. Which means someone somewhere can be thinking "I think therefore I am not", or "I don't think, therefore I am". Or even "If this is thinking, and I exist, why can't I find someone to have sex with me?" After all, if I write a program that says "I think therefore I am", does it mean that program thinks?

    I am reminded of Magnetic Scrolls, who got an expert on AI (oh - did I forget to mention that your Polyfather is an expert on AI as well? Oh yes, he's multi-talented and arrogant to boot) to come and test their parser for intelligence. (A parser is a program that responds to written text, incidentally). The AI expert typed "I think therefore I am". The parser responded immediately: "Oh you do, do you..."

    As for people existing, well philosophers aside, more than a few scientitions would disagree. (I dislike the term 'scientist': people tend to assume that 'scientists' are somehow more clever than they are, rather than more desperate for sex, which is more often the case). Even as I write, some scientitions are arguing that we don't really exist, we're just a collection of genes and memes and such and such. Which is odd, really, because I thought I was snips and snails and puppy dog tails. But I'm glad, because I don't like the idea of a collection of innocent puppies being maimed in order to bring me into existence. I like puppies.

  7. Nothing is certain.
  8. Surely, you cry, surely 'nothing is certain' is absolutely true. But if it is, then something is certain - that nothing is certain. In which case, it isn't certain, and nothing is certain. But... and so forth.

  9. (Manchester United) is the greatest football team in the world.
  10. I know nothing about football. But it seems to me that any team that has to be constrained in brackets can't be all that hot.

  11. God is love.
  12. I have a lot of sympathy for the idea that God is Love. More than I should have, no doubt. Let's suppose I'm talking about the Judeo-Christian God here. Let's call him 'Linda', because 'Yahweh' and 'Jehovah' seem to have gone out of fashion. If Linda is love, then why did she spend so much time smitin' and a punishin' back in the Old Testament? Perhaps she only had our best interests at heart. Personally, I feel Linda just got into this hippy groove when she had a son. After all, the Israelites didn't play with beads half as much as the Catholics.

  13. Love is painful and difficult.
  14. I hear voles can fall in love. I wonder if they have vole Talk Shows, where Jerry Vole brings out a vole whose secretly been doing the wild thing with a transexual vole who thought she was going to get a free makeover. Makes you think. Well, no, actually, it doesn't. But if you want to believe that voles make you think, perhaps by running around in little wheels in your head, more power to you.


Well, I've strayed off the point, but you get the idea. Voles... puppies... ducks. It all makes perfect sense. It didn't seem worth doing a good job on the last couple, because by now you've either got it, or you're deeply confused, or you're in a tumultous rage and you're ready to declare me the most blasphemous thing since Pokemon. I can't believe that some fundamentalists are claiming that Pokemon's message that 'we should pay less attention to our differences and more attention to what's the same about us' as a Satanic message. I never pegged Satan for a hippy. Perhaps she's had a kid too.

Oh, one last thing. In at number two in our "Top Truths Four Hundred Years Ago" was

Witches should be burnt.

Well let me tell you that this is simply not the way to get into their pants. From my experience, modern witches prefer it if you ask them for sex - they're usually very obliging. Especially at Beltane. Blessed be and all that jazz. Believe me, if you are lonely and desperate for sex you could do worse than to hook up with your local Pagans. They're at it like voles most of the time, but without the talk shows.

Besos II: The Revenge,

Spiral Lobster