What is a true opinion? How to tell a lie from the truth?

6f2aa5cd9ebc9409291c08674f6982ffAll too often in today’s discussions, whatever topics they touch upon, one may get confronted with the following categorical comeback: “It’s just my opinion!”. Normally, that is an argument which is made by one of the members of the discussion who has run out of other arguments that could prove them right. It roughly translates as: “Whatever you say to me, whatever proof and arguments you come up with, I will have the same opinion and none other, even if it is in fact false”. Naturally, continuing to argue with such an opponent is totally futile, since they are not interested in the Truth, they simply use arguments to impose their views, no matter true or false.

The ancient rule of sophists1, which demagogues like to use, that truth is born in dispute, doesn’t have anything to do with true knowledge, because it only means that whoever is louder, whoever manages to cheat and confuse the other party in the smoothest way, is right. A person who has achieved the most success in this unworthy matter, is called a sophist. The goal of a sophist is not the truth, but the success in an argument or the practical benefit which this argument may bring. That is why sophistry is often used when someone is trying to prove certain antiscientific concepts and theories no matter what.

One of those antiscientific theories, a rather ancient one – is agnosticism, which denies the knowability of the world around us. Agnostics, who have unfortunately become very popular in our contemporary Russian society, claim that there is no absolute Truth, that there is no single truth but there are multiple truths, therefore, whatever comes to mind, is true.

The stupidity of that is obvious. But not for everyone the danger of this worldview to the society is just as obvious.

Who cares, right, it’s just another false idea, what is so dangerous about it?

Well, it’s only slightly dangerous if this idea is shared by one person and they don’t hold any important position in the society. But if this false idea is advocated by someone with a high social standing, whose work affects the entire society, or when this false idea is being imposed on the entire society, for example, with the help of the mass media, and as a result this idea gets shared by thousands and even millions of people, then by thinking wrong, they start acting wrong. And that becomes a real catastrophe for the country and for its people, a catastrophe that, as a matter of fact, we have been witnessing for the last quarter of a century.

Pluralism – that is, the right to have multiple opinions, pretending they are true – is a bourgeois demagogy and its goal is to drown the Truth in lies, equalize lies and Truth, ignorance and knowledge. This is what the destruction of the Soviet Union began with.

Because the right to make a mistake in this case gradually turns into the right to lie. When false opinions on the same subject become too many, they replace the Truth that cannot be seen under a multi-ton layer of lies. The Truth is in fact no longer allowed to exist. Without the Truth, the human society loses guidance and, therefore, its ability to survive.

Intuitively, a lot of us realize this. And when we ask other people about something we don’t know (because no one can know everything!), we expect that they will tell us the Truth and not a lie. A lie does not interest anyone and no one wants to hear a false opinion, no matter how famous the person they’re asking is. We are all interested in the Truth only, because it helps us to live and understand the world around us. In a class society, very often a lie is passed for the Truth.

So how can they be told apart? How can we understand where the Truth is and where a lie?

Firstly, you have to maintain the scientific approach, because science teaches us that there may be plenty of opinions, but the Truth is always one and only. (Here we mean actual science, not pseudoscience, which oftentimes is presented as science!). Only an opinion that reflects knowledge and matches the Truth is justified and right.

Secondly, the Truth can always be proven with arguments based on knowledge, facts and scientific logic. When knowledge is replaced with fantasy, when facts are untrue or are not listed in all of their entirety, when their combination and interconnection is not taken into account, when logic is replaced with demagogy, there can be no Truth, only an opinion. And this opinion is inherently false, that is, what we get is a Lie.

The truth always implies that the subject matter matches the concept.  The object, phenomenon or event which is being considered has to be studied from all angles, in all its entirety and variability, with all of its negative and positive aspects; all of its in-built contradictions have to be taken into account and all of its interconnections with other objects, phenomena or events.

A one-sided view cannot be the Truth, even if it reflects some of the facts. Why not? Because it ignores all other facts! It’s not the entire truth, it’s only part of the truth. Because there are other truths, which are also closely related to the same object, phenomenon or event.

What does that mean? It’s simple! Seeing that Masha has blond hair, we will say that she is a blond. Is that true? Yes, it is. But Masha may have dyed her hair blond and her real hair is black. It turns out that Masha is a blond and a brunette at the same time! Moreover, the words “blond” and “brunette” don’t describe Masha fully. Because nothing is mentioned about her age, character, education, actions, etc. – all of those things that make up the essence of Masha. Only by describing Masha fully, by studying her from all angles, both on the outside and on the inside, by taking into account all the contradictions of her character and her actions, we will be able to form a true opinion about what Masha is.

And that is exactly the sort of way we must treat the phenomena and events of public life or history – by studying them from all angles, taking into account the time period and specific historical conditions which they took place in, taking into account the interconnection between them and other phenomena and events, etc. Only then we will be able to acquire real knowledge about what was happening or what is happening, and not become victims of manipulation of other people who want to impose lies onto us, presenting them as the Truth.

[1] Sophistry – assertion based on intentional violation of the laws of logic, on making false arguments. – The Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

[2]   Demagogy – a way to deceive the working masses with various attractive, but empty promises and slogans. Demagogy is the main political method of bourgeois parties. – Political Dictionary edited by G. Alexandrova, State publication of political literature, 1940, p.165

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