Vol. 2, Issue 22, June 1, 2004
Dr. Watson Cures All.

The Truth is Out There, Sort Of

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

As I often do when enjoying my third or fourth Cup of Elisabeth's most excellent Coffee in the morning, I am struck by the nature of Truth (surely All conduct such philosophical monologues when taking their café: it is the very Fuel of the Age of Reason). There is my Truth, which is perhaps a bit Rosier than that of some; there is the Truth according to my nephew Ephram, which is a highly Imaginative and Inventive permutation of the word not always Congruent with the local Law; and there is "Absolute Truth," or that which is printed in the estimable New York Times, at least before they issue self-Corrections.

The issue is also at Hand because some - not all, mind you, but some - have called into question the Integrity of our own humble Publication's devotion to the dissemination of Truth: actual News, you see, which corresponds more or less Exactly to things which have Happened, or which are very Likely to have happened, so everyone agrees they might as well have Happened anyway. My in-box is Replete with letters Praising our scientific articles, Imploring us to share the Source of our keen scientific articles, or Castigating us for our keen scientific articles. I have three Very Neat piles on my desk accordingly.

I think that there are very Few facts upon which everyone may Concur: for instance, that my Coffee is rather on the Hot side, that it is Brown (for those with full Color vision at least), and that it is distinctly Wet. But from this simple platform one's interpretation readily Diverges: for all may Not agree on whether it is too hot to Drink (Ephram is notoriously sensitive to Temperature), or whether it is Delicious and Invigorating (Emmett consumes naught but Herbal Teas: which explains his Complexion if you ask me). Two may drink from the very same cup, yet not Agree on these truths, if truth there is to be had in my Coffee.

Sadly, and not Surprisingly, it is somewhat more Challenging to determine Truth from such things as News-Papers than it is from a cup of Coffee. Now, we have been Accused of not adhering strictly to a "factual standard;" but I cannot find a Single News-paper or Media outlet in this great land, from the Great Gray Times to the most Popular radio announcers, who has not been likewise Accused. Are we all a pack of raving Liars? Or are there simply Degrees of truth and falsehood in which we all consensually Participate?

My own sense of Truth has been somewhat Impugned in the past, as a Public Defender; for there is Truth in life, and Truth in the court of law. I am not in the habit of Prevaricating, good readers - though in the interests of representing my poor Clients (who were, alas, committed to our Penitentiary system with disturbing Consistency and Alacrity) it behooved me to Concentrate on those aspects of the truth most Favorable to my clients. Such was my Duty, and I would not have been Performing it appropriately had I acted otherwise.

Like Plato's Ideas, real Truth exists only on a higher Plane, glimpsed only in the imperfect Models and Reflections which populate our humble Earth. Among these, our own estimable Pages are surely a dim and scattered Reflection indeed. But to judge by our Readers' reactions to our Analysis on the Genetic Provenance of the noble Chihuahua last week, at times an Indirect reflection may shine brightest of All: for every Reader who has sent me a puzzled Electro-Mail, taking us to Task for our liberty with the Facts, a hundred more have written to say "I Knew It!"

And for the Record, my Coffee is indeed Hot, Delicious, and Invigorating; and I would stand by that Interpretation even in a Court of Law.

Bookmark and Share