I’ve talked about myself as a postmodernist here, claiming that all grand narratives (meaning frameworks) can be deconstructed in terms of their internal logic, and therefore truths are contingent, situated in time and place and culture, rather than absolute. (Or, slightly more carefully, that if absolute truths exist we have no direct access to them.)
And yet… it really annoys me when people don’t tell the truth!
Discussions around climate change recently on a forum. (Yeah, I know…)
One person claimed repeatedly that the world is cooling, not warming, and is cooler now than it was in 1979.
(I’d already addressed this blatant lie here)
Another posted a scurrilous text floating around the web that the Iceland volcano negated all carbon dioxide reduction efforts so far, and that the Mt Pinatubo eruption released more carbon dioxide than all human activities ever.
On the second point I noted that Mt Pinatubo released 43 million tonnes of CO2 while human activities release 27 billion tonnes every year. On the wonderfully named Eyjafjallajoekull volcano, this link shows that its net result was a *reduction* in emissions: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/planes-or-volcano/
Of course, none of the ‘skeptics’ (and ain’t *that* a misnomer!) has taken a step back and said “Oh, apparently I have been misinformed…” They’ve just ignored the refutation and moved on to reporting the next lie…
My point here is not to rant about dishonest people, or to make points about climate change, but to explore my own philosophical positions.
On the one hand, I’m a convinced postmodernist. On the other, the truth matters to me.
Perhaps (and I know this is a pretty superficial analysis) part of the truth is encoded in the statement: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.” There could be different units and different ways of measuring, but no grand narrative (with the possible exception of insanity or mendacity) can make Mt Pinatubo’s emissions exceed those of human activity. The universe insists on some things…