On the Truth™ of Zathogs


Fractal2Never mind what a “zathog” is even supposed to be. Think of it as standing in for any sort of claim held to be definitely, objectively, or absolutely true, but on little good evidence with often faulty or unpersuasive reasoning.

Full knowledge implies full understanding. Absolute knowledge implies absolute understanding. Objective knowledge implies independently demonstrable understanding. You must at least in principle be able to show that you know what you claim to.

Also, certainty of knowledge or belief is an understandable but often mistaken human feeling. Our convictions have a distressing tendency to fall flat when those darned pesky facts disagree with them, and we’re forced to accommodate an external reality merely to continue with our lives, health, wealth, and our sense of well-being.

We must know more than what something’s called or scanty details about it from literature giving contradictory accounts, to say we truly know a zathog is such a way, or another way, or even that it exists at all.

To say that a thing is beyond all comprehension, to dismiss it as a mystery while claiming to know it with certainty is to claim knowledge that one can’t and doesn’t really have. One can’t do so coherently without committing a performative contradiction—when one’s claims are at odds with the verbal actions one is undertaking in strategically making those claims to begin with.

That includes any unsupported claims about a zathog that we could possibly make.

Either zathogs are beyond all comprehension and we know nothing about them, or they are not. It can’t be so both ways. If we truly do know some things and not others, how do we justify exceptions?

To be rational, any exceptions we make must be reasonable, plausible, and more satisfactory than, “I know this is true because of vacuous, irrelevant, and unfalsifiable ‘reasons’ X, Y, & Z.”

If we truly do know anything about zathogs at all, then we’ve not perfect but probable reasons to justify our claims about them, producible when needed with no silly excuses required. We can’t expect to have perfect reasons, so we must make do with what we can. It’s an unfortunate consequence of living in a complex, contingent reality with a finite ability to gather and store knowledge.

What if we know nothing else about zathogs but that they exist, and never mind what they look like, want, do, or even think? On what do we base even that claim?

To convince canny skeptics, testaments of conviction, blurry photos, shaky videos, unsupported anecdotal accounts, or appeals to intuition, of the existence or nature of zathogs are of little use here.

Logical argument has limited use as well, without objective evidence to verify the reality of zathogs. You need testable, relevant, non-circular, publicly accessible, repeatable data to ground even the very best of good reasons.

The acceptability of our reasons and our data is our substitute for the feeling we may desire of metaphysical certitude. Even without complete closure, we may have some confidence in what we know, until newer and better reasons and more accurate data make themselves apparent in future.

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