As human beings, the most significant problem we face today is the same problem all of our ancestors have faced throughout history – how can we be certain a particular thing is true or false. How can we know when we’re being misled?
Each of us, as individuals, must be able to see what to reject and what to accept in order to get the most out of life, using our time to support things we won’t later regret, avoiding a look back at our lives and saying “I’d have done better if I’d realized “that” was nothing but a lie.”
Some of us are lucky enough to have parents who give much thought to truth and falsehood, who have consistent beliefs and pass their evaluative tools on to their children.
Other lucky members of society may, when going through school, meet an exceptional instructor who teaches them to reject all learning by rote, to question the validity of all things, especially that for which questionable proof is offered.
Largely though, the vast majority of people, myself no exception, fail to learn that many of the things we are taught early in life to be true are in fact false. Some ideas (like Santa Claus) were never meant to be taken very seriously as the originator knew them to be false and was very aware that society regarded them as false as well. These kinds of lies aren’t really dangerous. The very dangerous ideas are those ideas believed to be true by the person feeding us the information.
The importance of learning a reliable method to determine truth can’t be overstated yet we will not, at present, be able to find a significant number of people who even agree on what is an appropriate method to determine the validity of an idea. Some will tell you to believe the bible. Some will say trust the experts. Some will say believe nothing.
For myself, the fog finally lifted after studying the philosophy of objectivism and learning that reality doesn’t lie. If facts observed in the real world are rejected to prove an argument then the argument is necessarily false.