redfishrightThe irony of much of the online “truth” movement is that many of them consider truth to be whatever they agree with. Whether this means relying on “mother’s intuition” or some unnamed source quoting unnamed studies carried out by unnamed scientists, is of miniscule importance. The question in regard to every statement is whether there is evidence to support it, or at the very least no evidence disproving it.

For some matters like philosophy, logical and rational analysis are the tools for disproving theories: do the constituent pieces of the theory contradict themselves, or are there major examples disproving the philosophy? One easily disprovable philosophy is “trickle-down economics,” which is ironically sometimes classified as an economic theory despite the mountains of evidence disproving it. The theory wrongly asserts that accumulation of wealth at the top will invariably “trickle down” onto the less fortunate and less powerful workers: the upper class’s financial bladder will apparently fill up and then be excreted onto the “struggling masses.” Unfortunately, there is less than no evidence of this ever working, anywhere.

When we come to subjects relating to health, both mental and physical, or the environment, it is a grotesque distortion of reality to pretend that opinion is somehow equal to empirically established science. Unlike in regard to philosophy: your argument is not acceptable simply because it does include any logical inconsistencies in itself. When we are talking about nutrition, your belief in what a microwave does to your food is less important to the matter than science actually investigating what a microwave does to your food.

Unlike a discussion about morality, questions about health, biology, genetics, and physics cannot be answered by someone simply stating their opinion. In such situations, the truth seeker’s best friend is the attempt to disprove all the various theories they believe and have heard, holding onto only that which has stood up to facts. So although Monsanto’s chemical herbicide Roundup (Glyphosate) is likely to be able to cause cancer, genetic modification is in itself is not dangerous. Prying apart facts from fiction, and figuring out what is at least definitely not true, is the first job of anyone looking for the truth.

Why is this so important, you might ask. The importance has to do with credibility: your overarching arguments might be right, but if the facts you refer to are simply untrue then anyone who actually checks into your statements will likely reject everything you said. How many people have initially distrusted Monsanto, only to change their position because an activist was horribly misinformed? If you want to fight for a cause, any cause, please make sure you have actively looked into the statements you are making. Please make sure that you are not inadvertently making people distrust you and your mission.

There are, in fact, a lot of major problems that humanity has to deal with. There are incredibly serious environmental problems that are, ironically, being largely ignored by many people claiming to be environmentalists. There are rational arguments for vegetarianism, for instance that due to trophic efficiency approximately 90% of the energy consumed at each step in the food chain is lost as heat and transpiration (water loss): eating plants instead of meat means using literally about 1/10 as many resources. Why is this highly effective and rational argument ignored by those campaigning against meat? Would these activists not be more effective if they were to open themselves to learning more about the subject, about their cause?

There are more than enough problems to work on, causes to fight for. Those of us willing to do more than just innerly acknowledge their existence should make sure we are making a positive impact: not distracting from the real issues or spreading disinformation. Do not accept information from someone simply because they are your friend, or because you trust them in general: always look behind the curtain and see how disprovable their arguments are. The added bonus is that when you have tried to debunk your own beliefs, you become acquainted with all possible arguments that can be brought against you: increasing your own effectiveness. Debunking is truly a truth-seeker’s best friend.