Around 2,500 years ago, philosophers and other academics engaged in a dangerous and mysterious pursuit: the quest for truth. From Socrates to Plato to Aristotle, the dogged pursuit of knowledge was embarked upon, often in the shadows, by those who would not be bound by the restraints of political correctness, religious zealotry, or fear. This ancient team of brilliant academics lived in a world where the pursuit of the ultimate truth could result in persecution and death. Yet they still reached levels of human understanding that still bear discoveries to this day. Ironically, the very purpose of this brave band of intellectual warriors is once again in danger of being relegated to the shadows. The quest for truth has been abandoned, and in its place sits a dystopian delegation of groupthink that endangers all the pillars of human understanding.
Pillars of human understanding
To understand the mission of the quest for truth, one must examine the very pillars of human understanding and the processes by which their truths could be uncovered. This list is incomplete, a mere starting point that itself is restricted by our current intellectual capacities. It must not only be examined within its own structure, but as it could account for only a tiny percent of all understanding, pursuits to discover what else lies beyond these boundaries must also be undertaken and acknowledged when necessary. They are listed in no order, and they welcome additional input on omissions or necessary reclassification.
Pillar I: Natural sciences
This realm examines the nature of our physical world and the universe. It includes: Physical sciences, physics (the study of the universe), chemistry (the study of matter), life sciences, biology (the study of life and living organisms), anatomy, botany, zoology, neurobiology, marine biology, embryology, ecology, paleontology, genetics, cellular biology, ethology, earth sciences, astronomy, meteorology, geology, atmospheric, glaciology, climatology and structural geology.
The social sciences are the study of human societies as well as the relationship of human beings with their social environment. They include: Anthropology, history, archaeology, human geography, economics, law, education, criminology, political science, health, media studies, business, philosophy, linguistics, cultural studies, sociology, psychology, etc.
The formal sciences use formal systems to produce knowledge and explore the nature of different disciplines, including: Mathematics, logic, computer science, data science, statistics, systems science, artificial intelligence and information technology.
Much like the United States government and military have refashioned the term UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) into UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), I am going to update the umbrella term paranormal into paraknowledge. This Pillar of human understanding includes the category of paranormal, but also other areas such as religion. Each of the categories below denotes events or phenomena that some would consider beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.
- Paranormal – from bigfoot to UFOs to clairvoyance, the paranormal is an important aspect of the Quest for Truth.
- Indigenous knowledge - the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. This knowledge informs the processes of their day-to-day life.
- The arts.
Quest for truth methods
To pursue truth in every aspect of potential human understanding, then there must exist some agreed-upon platforms and methodology for that quest. Below are some of the most time-honored methods for getting at the truth, but it must be understood that part of the Quest for Truth is also the receptiveness for new methods of detection.
- Quantitative Research (deductive) – this form of research is often viewed as statistical (mathematical) collection and analysis of numerical data.
- Scientific Method – the classic method that we all learn in junior high science class should still be a cornerstone of valid science: observation, measurement, experiment, hypothesis formulation, hypothesis testing and hypothesis modification.
- Qualitative Research (inductive) - this form of research is often viewed as interviews or questions asked of others. Researchers using this method often collect large volumes of oral/written evidence.
- Historical – this research studies past events.
- Ethnographic – relating to the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences.
- Debate – this is just like the classic debate club from high schools. Often in a debate, there are no right or wrong answers, but there are merely arguments with proper evidence and those without. For example, should parents be forced to vaccinate their children against COVID? This is an example of a hot-button topic that is rife for debate. There are very strong factions on both sides of the spectrum, but the answer to this, and most debate questions, is not a simple yes or no. Instead, we may discover the answer is somehow both yes AND no. The yes group has powerful evidence to support their claims. The no group has powerful evidence to support their claims.
The debate of such pursuits of truth raises a possibility that goes beyond scientific understanding: the possibility that there exists a percentage of knowledge to which there are no truths. It is perhaps for this reason that formal debate is characterized by providing evidence or reasons to support statements, as well as polite and respectful interaction.
The equation of everything
Albert Einstein attempted to discover an equation that could encompass the truth of everything. While he was unsuccessful, the idea that all knowledge is therefore mutually inclusive rather than having certain parts that are mutually exclusive bears strong consideration. There are those who would take the paraknowledge pillar of truth and place it on an island, excluding it from ever crossing paths with the other pillars. However, my experience with my paranormal research has shown a large amount of evidence that all pillars of human understanding are uniquely entwined. They do not exist within their own bubbles or their own dimensions, but rather, they each are essential for the existence of the others. The brave few who take up the renewed Quest for Truth must not succumb to the tempting mistake of excluding ancient knowledge from their research and analysis. Rather, the new Quest for Truth must embrace all those who have come before as it investigates what the future of everything is.
Bring back ‘higher education’
Institutions of higher education used to be hallowed grounds for debate and discovery. Respectful disagreement and aggressive debate were encouraged because they were known paths to unexpected discoveries. However, the world’s higher educational institutions have become bastions of close-minded safe spaces, where everyone is mandated to get along and not dare hurt anyone’s feelings or make each other feel uncomfortable. The drawback, of course, is that by not being willing to risk the status quo, we risk not making profound discoveries that could have dramatic positive outcomes for all of society.
I live near several large universities: historic institutions of renowned academic glory. Or at least they were. If they are now, no one is saying. Instead, they bombard the public with the most elementary and insulting of marketing. Go to a basketball game, and you will be assaulted with ‘be kind’ announcements. Did the astronomy department contribute to the James Webb discoveries? Maybe. But they certainly aren’t telling us. Ride a local bus and another institution of ‘higher education’ tells me to ‘love everyone.’ Did the physics department make groundbreaking work in their field of study? Your guess is as good as mine. Their messaging is eerily like that of a preschool classroom, and much less academic. For example, even preschoolers learn to be polite and basic algebra:
Bobby has one apple. Jane has 3 apples. How many more apples does Jane have? High schoolers might recognize this as 1 + x = 3. Kindergarteners might know it as ‘1 plus what is 3?’
No matter their religious background or beliefs, humans have an inner sense that our world can and should be better. Like many animals, human parents raise their children through a particular set of values. They grow up in communities and are surrounded by religious institutions and other benevolent entities. They Quest for Truth needs our colleges and universities to return to being true institutions of academia and higher education. They must contribute by becoming places for wonder and discovery once more.
Bubble gum time
In 1988, legendary director John Carpenter released a cult classic film set in a dystopian future that looks an awful lot like 2022. Times are tough. Our decisions are influenced by powerful forces all around us. Our senses are being numbed through constant barrages of toddler-level messaging. Our lives and our thoughts are being controlled without many of us realizing it. The protagonist of They Live (1988) uttered a catchphrase that could serve well those who would take up the mantle for the Quest for Truth:
We have come here to chew bubble gum and kick some ass, and we are all out of bubble gum.
Let us wander and wonder
If we are to rediscover our lust for wandering and our passion for wondering, then we must be willing to doggedly pursue the truth no matter where it takes us. We must be willing to ascend above the naysayers and the small thinkers. We must be ready to fearlessly ask questions that those around us are too afraid to know the answers to. On a recent viewing of the Rings of Power on Amazon Prime, based on the beloved fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien, I was taken aback by a song whose inspiring lyrics reminded me that the new Quest for Truth is a voyage indeed worth taking:
At last comes their answer through cold and through frost
That not all who wonder or wander are lost
No matter the sorrow, no matter the cost
That not all who wonder or wander are lost.