Sunday, February 22, 2009

True or False?

One day in high school honors geometry our teacher, Dr. Sahagian, wrote a premise on the board and asked the class to vote if it was true or false. I raised my hand for “true” and then the entire class voted “false”. The teacher pressed me several times to change my vote. He called on the brightest students in the class to justify their opinions. Although placed in the most advanced classes, I knew math wasn’t my strength. My answer made sense and felt right. I held firm.

I was right.

I embraced the truth in opposition to the entire class. When my teacher and classmates expressed admiration, I didn’t understand the fuss. Everyone said they would have changed their answer when faced with such opposition. I couldn’t imagine agreeing to a falsehood in order to be part of a group.

We don’t recognize defining moments in our life while they are occurring.

As a philosophy major in college, I reveled in my Introduction to Logic textbook by Irving M. Copi. Today I continue to hold the book in my hands reading my meticulous answers with deep-rooted satisfaction. I stated the converses of propositions, constructed definitions by genus and difference, and classified arguments as deductive or inductive. My natural inclination for geometry stemmed from an ability to think logically and dissect arguments.

These days I blog. I’m obviously blogging now. I take pride in accuracy when writing. When reading other blogs and comments, I notice that people are often confused about truth. This week a friend pointed me to an article with a valid argument resulting in a false conclusion. A beginning student of logic could have diagrammed the statements and known, but the article was heralded around the internet with acclaim. The blog sounded cutting-edge and often that’s all that counts.

Beyond the simplicity of dissecting arguments to prove their falsehood, we can “disagree in belief” or “disagree in attitude”. People may have a disagreement in belief as to whether or not something has happened. But even if they agree something has actually happened, they can disagree about their attitude toward it. A writer can choose a word with exactly the same descriptive meaning but with an opposite emotive meaning. One may describe it in language that expresses approval while the other disapproval. A disagreement in attitude is not easy to settle. People use persuasion and rhetoric to attempt to change people’s attitudes.

Recently a committee accused me of writing “several errors” in a post on another blog. Since I reported using the exact words of the presenter, the disagreement is not in belief. With a predetermined opposition to the presenter, they may have thought of arguments against him or felt that he was not properly answering their questions. This is their attitude toward the speaker rather than the facts.

Since I worked for the same organization as the presenter 15 years ago, they believe I have a predetermined attitude. I did however represent the facts without attitude or emotive language.

Hopefully people will see their attempt to discredit me for what it is. In the meantime, let’s all stick to the facts.

We all know I’ll stand up for the truth and won’t back down.

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