In the first episode of the new season of the X-Files, Mulder finds proof about something. Proof that something he had long tried to prove was in itself a smokescreen and distraction. But then this new proof in itself is turned around and looks like a fraud. Only to be reinforced a few moments later. What does this mean?
It means that everything in the world, everything about your beliefs is always the victim – or subject – of a binary distinction, a binary back and forth between true and false. Good enough or not good enough. Tolerable or intolerable. Alive or dead.
And if that does not flow smoothly from my observations about knowledge and evidence in itself, this means that nothing you believe can ever be certain, because everything you believe is – at some level of depth – based on assumptions. Axioms. Pillars of knowledge.
But sadly, not one of those pillars is absolutely secure and safe to believe in.
You could construct a world in which nothing is ever constant, in which one truth is exposed as fraud just to make place for another truth that is then in turn exposed as fraud. Continue this until the person subjected to those truths and mental deflorations no longer feels safe to believe in or rely on anything at all.
Take an architect. How is he to design the spacing and placing of the windows? Well, for once, he could simply go by the rules. Fair enough! He simply does it as he learned it. But who invented the rules? And what were they based off? Are the rules based on probabilistic observations of the customer base? That is, did someone observe the emotions of customers when they were exposed to various styles of design? But then, who chose the various styles that would be proposed to them? Or was the design rather based on the golden rule? But how is that to be applied in each case?
Being a follower is easy. Doing it right. As long as there is only one way to do it right. But as soon as you enter a space of infinite possibilities, all that luring security vanishes. Even if 99% of all people tell you one thing, there is still a small chance they may be wrong. Deluded. Fooled. Why not? But there is also a chance they are not. And then, what does deluded really mean?
Or consider an economist. How does he approach the problem of understanding economy? And what does understanding mean?
In a way, many things are simply true because they are agreed upon to be true by many. And they stay true as long as agreement is reinforced. But take away the enforcement of agreement and you are attacking the foundational building blocks of a civilization’s belief system.
Is this a closing argument against followers? Not at all. Actually, I feel very insecure – read: in-secure; not secure – about practically all my beliefs to the point that they keep pointlessly floating in and out of my head, disabling and crippling me into not being able to make any decision, for there are infinite possibilities of all of my beliefs being somehow flawed. But whenever I start building something, planting some seeds of knowledge, I must be at all times afraid that the resulting tree can be utterly destroyed by nothing more than a mere argument. By a mere exposition of a fraud I had bought into. But even then, this exposition in itself may be a fraud.
Every evidence is possible wrong and counter-evidence likewise. And if you have observed and experienced enough painful cycles of true-untrue-true-untrue, you realize it is too painful to truly believe in anything. Well, at least that is how I feel.
Every evidence is possibly wrong, every proof fishy, every exposition flawed, every truth doubtable, every lie possibly true.
And most interestingly, at the lowest level, all that shit is binary. True or false. The foundational blocks of our lives, of our entire confidence rest on nothing more than a bunch of binary switches. Scary. Some of us have built too greatly on those switches, so they must – and can – never acknowledge it. But ultimately, that is it.
What are the founding blocks of your knowledge and confidence? What do you assume to be unmanipulatable truth? Are you being manipulated? Or manipulated into thinking you are being manipulated? Is there anything but manipulation?