These mental tools will help you distinguish fact from fiction. All you need is common sense. No need for advanced mathematics or philosophy. These come in handy in everyday life. Use them with your favorite news program.
We firmly agree with Socrates’ assertion. Truth is obtainable even if it is only to find what isn’t true. Axioms are tools that help us determine fact from fiction by uncovering deception.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Repeating A Lie Does Not Make it True
This axiom is first on the list. It’s the most prevalent. This ploy is the primary element of propaganda. It is the basis for modern advertising. It’s how to make a false premise acceptable. Repetition is the key. You’d think one would be easy to spot. The beauty of this ploy is that it’s almost invisible. Unless you look for it, you won’t see it being used.
It doesn’t matter how absurd the argument. Repetition makes it believable. That’s because the more often we see or hear it, the more we are likely to believe it. Using several types of communication methods helps to spread and solidify the message. Creating a slogan, or symbol also strengthens the strategy. Combining these makes the premise more acceptable.
The argument works like this. XYZ is true because many people believe it. And, also because some charismatic celebrity endorses it. Therefore, XYZ is true. Don’t fall for this. Just remember, false information remains false. Repetition does not make something true. Uncovering deception in advertising will save you a lot of time and money.
2. The Scarcity of Truth Does Not Make it a Lie
This axiom helps us see when someone tries to discredit facts due to a lack of their occurrence. New facts and finding start somewhere, with a recent discovery. Fresh ideas, facts, and sources are often scarce. Otherwise, they would already be well-known facts.
So, those trying to support a false position attack anything that contradicts it. Discounting facts or arguments because of their scarcity is the potential sign of an illegitimate position. It’s a first-line defense is to debunk legitimate facts and new valid theories. This is especially true with new discoveries in science and archeology.
Western religion has a history of cleansing the populace of sources that contradict their worldview. So, remember, the scarcity of data does not mean it is false. This should not deter the modern-day truth-seeker. A fact remains a fact even if you can only find it in one place. The answer to this fallacy is doing your research. Uncovering deception often reveals how people destroy evidence.
3. Ad hominem Attack
Right along with the above idea is a ploy to shift your attention away from the facts. Attacking the person is an Ad hominem, short for ‘argumentum ad hominem’. This is Latin for “to the person”. The tactic here is to shift the focus from the facts to the credibility of the person presenting the idea. Rather than face the data, it’s often easier to attack the person. You’re probably familiar with this tactic. It’s a favorite of politicians.
4. The Duck Principle or Plagiarism
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And if it also has feathers and webbed feet like a duck, then it is a duck. Do not let someone sell you a duck by a different name. This is plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. When you intentionally conceal the source, it’s plagiarism. Violating this principle is an obvious breach of even the most liberal ethics. But this type of ethical dilemma is common in the realm of religion. They have some interesting tactics to get around it.
The Abrahamic religions are an example of a violation of this logical axiom. The Abrahamic religions include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. One source of this data comes from their internal documents. The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work 1907.
Example of the Duck Principle in Action
An excellent example is at the heart of the Abrahamic religions. These are the Western organized religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). These belief systems are combinations of earlier Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian, and Babylonian traditions. You can follow the breadcrumbs from here.
Take any, yes any, practice, ritual, and 90% of the quotes from the sacred texts. You can trace them all back to the aforementioned mythologies. The Church admitted to this, but not publicly. Catholic Encyclopedia printings which are older than 1908 record truths for internal use. Here they admit to adopting what they also term as “Pagan” rituals and doctrine.
” … the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907)
The Originators Become the Heretics
Some assert the rituals and doctrines that pre-date Abrahamic tradition are “preconceived forgeries”. Yes, they assert that the earlier originators are the forgers and not them. The people who created their doctrines are the heretics. How could this be? They claim the Devil told these heretics about the future doctrines of the Church. By the way, this includes all the sacred texts and practices. In this way, they could write it down and practice all the rituals eons before the Church existed. Does that make sense? No.
The problem with this argument is that it assigns the attribute of omniscience to the devil. Ops. The Devil shouldn’t have the attribute of omniscience. Only God is can do that. They use this argument to explain the plagiarism. They say the earlier “Pagan” practices are preconceived forgeries. And, most of the time this argument still works within the Church. Because “believers” believe what they are told.
Why not just admit where all the stuff came from? Because that would admit to the Pagan origins for all of their sacred beliefs. And the Church doesn’t like Pagans. This proves the only thing crazier than an imaginary friend is an imaginary enemy.
5. If a Document Says Something
This is a favorite tactic of a used car salesman. Even though the speedometer says the car has 100,000 miles, trust me, it only has 50,000 miles. So, you’ll find this axiom useful when people use sacred texts to support their arguments. They claim the text means something other than what it says. They cherry-pick what they hold as authoritative and ignore the inconsistencies.
The argument is even though the divinely inspired text says XYZ, what God really meant was ABC. This argument is often necessary when a religion develops doctrines that contradict or go beyond the scope of their sacred texts. You will often find this tactic along with one or more of the other logical fallacies. Similarly, they chose which parts of the texts are sacred and which they can ignore because “we don’t believe that way”.
The next in our list of axioms deal with the denial of science and logical reasoning.
6. Discrediting Valid Science
This is one axiom that is probably the one that’s easiest to spot. People are often straightforward with their objection to facts. Learn to question those who debunk legitimate science. Sources such as history, chemistry, archaeology, and astronomy are superior to mythology. You should use these sciences to confirm the reliability of all data.
Secular sciences and disciplines are not evil. Some claim sciences that contradict their traditions and are tantamount to a “wrong against God”. It’s simple. Trust legitimate scientific proofs and the theories which point to the truths they support.
7. False Positive Association
The close association of a lie to the truth does not turn the lie into the truth. This piggybacking on the truth is a favorite of those seeking to validate their “stuff” by associating it with reliable sources. When opportunity, access, and motive exist, beware of this tactic.
Testing the validity, applicability, and reliability of the data will show this tactic. Often the premises on which the argument for the association is based on circular logic. That is because more reliable data is valid, so too must their doctrines. This is one of the logical axioms which prompts us to ask questions about the validity of this association.
8. False Negative Association
Falsely associating a fact or truth with a lie does not turn it into a lie. Be aware of the attempt to associate a socially unacceptable or religiously undesirable idea with viable facts. This is an attempt to render the fact unacceptable. Some use this ploy to make whole subjects, or sources off-limits. In this way, their clientele won’t even approach the subject, let alone turn their brains on and begin thinking about it. Excluding valid sources, subjects or legitimate sciences is limiting and prejudicial.
A good sign of this tactic are lists of banned books, prohibited subjects or authors. If someone makes a list of what you should not read, this is Censorship.
9. The Use of Emotions to Determine Truth
It is a natural reaction to protect what you believe from threats. When you encounter facts that challenge your current worldview, you will act to protect your current belief system — even if the data is true. Instinctively, you react to protect your current worldview, no matter what it is.
We understand intellectually that our emotions can not tell us if something is true or false. However, when something violates our sacred ground we still react. When you “feel” some idea or fact threatening your emotional equilibrium, stop and take a break.
You need to realize that religious arguments revolve around triggering your “fight or flight” reaction. This is a strategy to keep you from asking the tough questions which underpin the logic and factual basis of their arguments. It’s a strategy of attaching anything that threatens the belief system with something negative. And, it works effectively. This is why we recommend the use of emotional checks. Take a break. Do something to get your mind off the subject. This minimizes your emotional reaction. Otherwise, you’ll be in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’. Once you regain your emotional equilibrium, then you are better able to conduct your research.
Conversely, religions use this tactic in reverse. They use your emotions to keep you a paying customer. They feed them what makes them feel good. So, they build religions that are entertainment rather than inner work. It’s all about making you feel good so that you will support them. They need your money.
10. Mysticism as a Proof of Divine Authorship
This strategy has been around for eons. If they can get you to believe whatever they are selling came from God, then it must be true. The argument goes like this, I know something that I can’t communicate or prove to you. However, my mystical experience alone is proof of divine authorship. Its use in Western is traceable to the Persian mystery cults of first century CE in Rome. The Persian Eureka model goes as follows. If you get it, you got it. If you didn’t get it, you can’t understand it, but there is no way to be sure you got it. Get it?
You’ll often find this argument made by a seller with a superiority complex. They want you to feel inferior for not experiencing or knowing what they know. However, there is no objective proof of or for their mystical experience. But they certainly don’t want you to use logic and common sense to disprove it. Do not fall for this one. Experience is not a measure of truth.
11. Misuse of Context
Taking anything out of its proper context invalidates the conclusions. This violates common sense and logic. But, you’ll probably this one more than any other tactic. Moreover, you can take anything out of context to make an invalid argument.
For instance, we’ll show how to prove that the Apostles of the New Testament drove an automobile. Not only that they drove a car. We can tell you the make and model! Just look at the following scripture: “So continuing daily with ‘one accord‘ in the temple.” Acts 2:46a (NKJ). By misuse of context, we prove the Apostles arrived in a Honda Accord station wagon. Accord it the name of a Honda. And, it must be a station wagon for them all to fit.
Of course, this type of argument is pure nonsense. But the conclusions we reached pale in comparison to the creativity of some religious institutions. The truth-seeker should always be on the lookout for the proper context. In some ancient texts, finding the proper context takes considerable backtracking, but the effort is always well worth it.
12. Determine the Validity and Reliability of Data
Take nothing at face value. All the other axioms lead you to this one. So, if someone is trying to sell you an idea check their sources. Validate your data before coming to your conclusions. The key to accurate, reliable research checking out where the information came from. Then determining if it is valid. You should ask, who, what, where, when, and why:
- Where does data come from? Always use sources from outside the worldview you are researching. Bias and prejudice are trademarks of sources from those inside their worldview (paradigm).
- Who else references this data?
- What is the scope of the research behind the data?
- When did the research take place? Are there any other sources?
- First, why is this data important? Why is the source reputable?
- Last, why do some people support the data? Why is it others do not?
They build this process upon the scientific method. This is the philosophy of healthy skepticism which brings us the modern world.
The Logical Axioms Summary Uncovering Deception
A quick review to summarize. These mental tools are only useful if you remember to use them.
1. Repeating A Lie Does Not Make it True. Asserting something is true because it has been repeated.
2. The Scarcity of Truth Does Not Make it a Lie. Attempts to debunk limited sources of truth.
3. Ad hominem Attack. Attack the credibility of the source instead of confronting the idea.
4. The Duck Principle or Plagiarism. Asserting the original is a preconceived forgery.
5. If a Document Says Something, Then That Is What It Says. Attempts to explain away what is in writing.
6. Discrediting Valid Science. Beware of attempts to discredit legitimate scientific sources.
7. False Positive Association. Citing a valid source in an attempt to associate false information with it.
8. False Negative Association. Associating an unacceptable idea with a valid fact to render the fact unacceptable.
9. The Use of Emotions to Determine If Something Is True or False. Be aware of people trying to elicit your emotions to sell an opinion or idea.
10. Using Mysticism as a Proof of Divine Authorship. Attempting to use “experience” as proof of divine authorship.
11. Misuse of Context. Watch for the connection between their premise and the context.
12. Always Determine the Validity, Applicability, and Reliability of Data. Above all, check and recheck the validity of the data before you come to any conclusions. Ask the questions, who, what, where, when, and why.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work 1907.
The content of this article is from “How to Find the Truth: A truth-seeking guide for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, and anyone with a desire to find the truth. By J. J.B, 2001.