Truth and Falsity

The confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty concerning Truth and Falsity in the statements and assertions people and organisations make in the media and online in our shared information spaces is a natural, endemic part of cultural and organisational communications systems.

The extent of the intricate interdependence and interconnectivity of the system of communications and information we are embedded in (and encapsulated by) has probably reached some kind of transitional stage in which the ambiguities proliferate (to some extent) uncontrollably in the way they do. There exist logical principles which can be used to conceptualise and illustrate this process.

There is an ongoing public debate in our shared information spaces concerning matters of Truth and Falsity. News reports, opinion pieces, media bytes, memes, social media posts and even Twitter’s staccato rhythms of 140-character platitudes are all both constitutive of, and examples of, this debate. There is an ongoing, billion-part choral work of sometimes dissonant, sometimes harmonious voices and cascading patterns and ideologies. The one certainty in all of this being that there is no one certainty in all of this.

While discussions around the Truth or Falsity of any particular informational artefact are as valuable as is the personal ability to differentiate credible fact from fiction, this focus on the parts, the cascading waves of ideology and influence across this communications network, this is actually in subtle ways to (as the saying goes) miss the forest for the trees. While we are clearly witnessing an accelerating information and communications environment in which fact and fiction in their broader cultural contexts are becoming fuzzy and indistinct, where those Truths that are not clear and self-evident (and even some that are) become shrouded in doubt – our concerns with details and the atomic, microscopic elements and species of opinion, assertion and ideological bias might at times shroud the larger macroscopic image and holistic emergent logical entity from our comprehension.

At the holistic level, we are witnessing the emergence of what is perhaps an ongoing phase transition in the overall recursive semantics of global information systems. All facts and knowledge are defined in some sense circularly, from within this ballooning system of reference and meaning. There exists a certain indefinitely extensible logical matrix of self-reference in which the increasing complexity of cross-reference, interdependence and interconnectivity is coiling around itself in endlessly creative and self-organising, emergent ways. Any system when viewed at a holistic system-of-systems level of abstraction can always only ever act in such a fundamentally self-referential manner.

At the point where Truth and Falsity become indistinct and in doubt, we find ourselves in what may be an authentically Gödellian semantically and logically rotating space, warped back upon itself in the impossible task of seeking an externally Objective (i.e. meta-) view from where to determine fidelity or truth; which at the point of formulation becomes just another element incorporated, assimilated, aggregated within (and into) the growing mass-density of this internally accellerating space. That the structure of this space inevitably reflects and illustrates something of the natural patterns and tendencies of information storage, flow and dynamics which led to consciousness and subjective individuation is probable.

Further to this, we are witnessing at this historical and technological moment precisely the kinds of Truth/Falsity ambiguity you would expect to see within such an accellerating and incomplete system of increasing complexity and self-reference. The proliferating ambiguities of Truth and Falsity (and even where they are not being wilfully manipulated) may be inevitable consequences in a system where the interconnectivity and cross-reference has elevated to an order of magnitude beyond a certain threshold of individual or collective cognitive intelligibility. Truth and falsity have fundamentally gotten away from us and out of our conscious control, not just because of the various psychological and ideological biases and motivations or interests which are playing themselves out on this shared Global stage, but because this complex reflexive system of logical self-reference very likely requires these ambiguities (and grey-areas between facts and fictions) to continue to internally extend itself. The expansion of ambiguity may just be the way this system intuitively, natively functions.

Our Global information and communications systems no longer support and service us so much as we support and service the needs of our Global information and communications systems. These systems owe us no debt of intelligibility or internal consistency, of transparent boundaries between Fact and Fiction. This may be the defining Enigma of our information age.

Logical incompleteness and self-reference generate ambiguity.


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