Democracy is the best system of government. I personally believe this is true, because democracy generally gives a greater proportion of the population the chance to try out their ideas than do authoritarian systems. But there are days that I believe that democracy is the worst form of government. When the population is either uneducated, or educated inappropriately, democracy can be trouble. Plato thought that democracy was the worst form of government. The “demos” sentenced his beloved mentor, Socrates, to death. 

What is a great truth? To me, a great truth is something that gives people guidance about how to live their lives. Great truths are usually helpful to humanity at some time, perhaps to correct a historical imbalance that has arisen. But then as that great truth does its work, another great truth may be called for. Should we even call “great truths” facts at all?

What about scientific facts? Even if we know, for example, that the earth moves around the sun, it requires a very specialized education (or tools) to be able to see this for ourselves, rather than relying on “the experts.” Scientific truths are generally not simple to figure out from basic sensory cues. And, the whole point of science is that it’s supposed to remain open to re-evaluation and improvement of its representations of the behavior of reality. So any scientific truth is temporary. Science is useful because it’s useful, whether or not it’s an accurate model of reality. It never will be because every model is an approximation.

To some degree, the works of all of the great thinkers who have helped me understand “the facts about facts” point to the “truth” that evaluating “facts” is more challenging than the casual thinker might anticipate.

The age of computer-generated imagery is making this task much more difficult in other situations. Computer-generated images of things that never existed may look very real. The shadows and reflections and details are essentially impossible for the casual observer to distinguish from an actual photograph of a concrete “object” or “assembly.” That makes it even more important to start to familiarize ourselves with the basics of what we can know, how we know it and how we can and can’t know it. We won’t gain certainty, but we can learn to construct legitimate confidence.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts through the years. Keep searching, and let me know if I can be of assistance to you in your current or future failure-analysis needs.