My head tells me many, many things that reality is unable to confirm. It has, fortunately, given up on trying to convince me that I am a handsome, six foot Adonis – that is six feet tall, obviously, and not a particularly good looking ant – but it does, unfortunately, continue to blithely disregard even the slightest fragment of reality in many other areas of my existence. I believe myself to be moderately intelligent, even though I have no physical evidence to back this up. I believe in the goodness of humankind. I know that there are bad people, but I believe that the only way in which they succeed and thrive is by pulling the wool over the eyes of all the good people. Bad people are able to do that, but not forever. They will get found out eventually and the good will succeed. I truly believe that, and it probably explains my peculiar attachment to rom-com. I know that the world is up to its neck in ordure at the moment, but I know that before the final titles it will come up smelling of roses. (Although my dad used to grow roses and, thanks to the local totter’s horse, they always smelled of shit.)
It is so hard to be certain that what you believe to be true is actually true. History is written by the victors. Scientific fact changes by the generation and, given that time is a man-made construct, what are we all messing about at? Everything I know about the Universe is so patently untrue. None of it makes sense, but the brains that tell me it does are so immense that I have to submit to them. They tell me that light travels at 299,792 kilometres per second – although I’m not certain who had the stopwatch when they measured it – and that nothing can exceed this speed. But what if Scotty managed to get his hands on some extra dilithium crystals? What if somebody actually found a way of speeding it up? The Earth wouldn’t orbit the Sun any faster, would it? (Would it? Blimey, I’m starting to worry about all those mirrors my wife has had me dot around the garden now.) The edge of the Universe (If Infinity can have an edge – discuss.) would still be just as far away. Wile E Coyote would still be just as far behind Roadrunner. Although you’d never be able to work out how far away a thunderstorm was.
Now, if I’m honest here, I think that I might be confusing Truth and Fact which, according to the Internet are not at all the same thing – although I have no idea how they differ. If something is true, is it not per se a fact? “I have no idea” is definitely both. Maybe a truth can be universally acknowledged, but not necessarily proven and, therefore, not fact. In fact, if truth isn’t provable then it isn’t true is it? And if truth isn’t true, then false may possibly not be untrue. Maybe Bill Clinton did ‘not have sex with that woman’. Who can prove that the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, Leprechauns, a barber who does not leave me looking like I’ve just been on a date with a Fly-Mo, do not exist? Just because they’ve never been seen, does not mean that they do not exist. Perhaps like Fairies, truth exists as long as people believe in it.
But fact is fact, isn’t it? It can be proved. Except… what if the methods we use to prove facts are faulty? What if we just don’t understand? What of all the times we’ve shaped the evidence to fit the facts? We all know that it takes more evidence to make us believe something we do not want to. We all know that crime is getting worse and no amount of contrary facts will change our opinion. Motivated Reasoning it is called: the tendency to give credence only to evidence that proves the facts we want to believe. The simple equation F=BSxDT² (where F = Fact, BS = Bullshit and DT = Donald Trump) applies. Blurry mobile phone footage of lights in the sky may prove the existence of extra-terrestrial beings to some, whilst to others it proves only the existence of magic mushrooms. I believe in Father Christmas: he is wholly good, so why would I possibly believe otherwise. There is no proof that he does not exist. Therefore he exists.
…And England will win the World Cup again before I die…
Perhaps fact is simply what we have seen with our own eyes. If we haven’t seen it (or evidence of it) then it isn’t true. I struggle with the concept of religion, not because I see any problem with the concept of good and bad – in my head neither can exist without the other – but because so few of the evil are allowed to do so very much harm to so very many of the good. All Gods are Just Gods, but I can’t help but think that if they held any proper sway at all, they would surely tilt the balance just a little bit the other way. And I in no way mean any disrespect to those who do have faith – quite the contrary – I just can’t find it in myself whilst the world is so full of shit. I would love to have belief – although I’m not at all convinced that belief wants me.
And now I have reached an age where my brain is actively trying to deceive me. It spends it’s time telling me ‘You can do that. You could do it fifty years ago, why on earth would you not be able to do it now?’ I recently asked my grandson if I could have a go on his skateboard. My brain told me what an excellent plan that would be, but my grandson was not so easily deceived. He said ‘No grandad, you might break.’ He is much wiser than I.
My brain can persuade me of many things, but it will never convince me that I am not an idiot.