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Today we will talk about epistemology and “fake news”.
As my loyal reader know, your humble blogger has written much about “fake news”, especially leading up to the 2016 US Presidential Election. (see here and here). To properly understand “fake news” is to understand the context in which it is produced and in which it appears. As has been explained in the post titled, The Soap Bubble Papacy™ : The Battle Is In Your Mind – Francis’ Gaslighting, fake news is any news that does not support the pre-defined transrational narrative.
As for epistemology, it is defined as the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge. More to the point: (see here)
Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. Much of the debate in epistemology centers on four areas: (1) the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and how it relates to such concepts as truth, belief, and justification, (2) various problems of skepticism, (3) the sources and scope of knowledge and justified belief, and (4) the criteria for knowledge and justification.
To further reduce the above definition for our purposes here, epistemology can be seen as the study for how one determines WHAT IS TRUE.
And as we are all aware, there are two manners in which what is TRUE has been historically defined. For this explanation, we go over to Dr. John Lamont and his seminal work titled Attacks on Thomism: (see here)
The traditional understanding of truth is that of Aristotle, who described truth as saying of what is, that it is. The neomodernists, due to their historical perspectivism, did not think that the theology and dogma of previous epochs could satisfy this understanding, but they did not want to dismiss them as false. They accordingly held that dogma was true, but that its truth could not be understood in Aristotle’s sense. Garrigou-Lagrange saw them as reviving the philosopher Maurice Blondel’s rejection of the traditional definition of truth as bringing the mind into conformity with reality (‘adaequatio rei et intellectus’) in favour of an account of truth as bringing thought into line with life (‘adaequatio realis mentis et vitae’).
To provide even more historical context, and by brining Aristotle into this discussion, we have opened the door for “philosophers” to enter this fray. And one of the most visible philosophers plying his trade these days is one Stefan Molyneux. I have provided a video above of his latest material pertaining to the US “fake media’s” 60 Minutes television program about… wait for it… “fake news”.
In that broadcast, the host, one Scott Pelley interviewed Mike Cernovich, an internet media personality in his own right. The broadcast dealt with the issue of “fake news” and the following exchange ensued regarding Sick Hillary’s health: (see here)
Michael Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day.
Scott Pelley: Well, she had pneumonia. I mean–
Michael Cernovich: How do you know? Who told you that?
Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.
Michael Cernovich: Why would you trust the campaign?
Scott Pelley: The point is you didn’t talk to anybody who’d ever examined Hillary Clinton.
Michael Cernovich: I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I’m not gonna take her on her word. The media says we’re not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes.
So what we see in the above is nothing more than the epistemological definition of what constitutes TRUTH coming to the fore.
Enter Stefan Molyneux. In the video at the top of this page, Stefan makes the following points about the above exchange, points that transcend all the various subsets of the Visibilium Omnium, et Invisibilium, and which I will emphasize and emphasize in the below transcripts: (starts at about the 24:00 minute mark)
(…) So then, we get to the meat of the matter. And maybe I’ve had a bit of an influence on my friend or maybe he came to this by his own speed and motor, but …it comes down to the fundamental question. And I am so happy that this fundamental question is being asked in such a widely disseminated platform as 60 Minutes, cause it’s really the meat of the matter.
So Scott Pelley asks, ‘Mike, how do you decide something is true?’
And Mike says: ‘How does anyone decide? That is an epistemological question. (Stefan kisses his fingers as he utters the sound “Mwwwa”).
Beautiful. Beautiful. The first time that word had reared its head in the mainstream media since … I don’t know… the trial of Socrates. No, actually Socrates would not have used the word epistemological either. But anyway…
That is an epistemological question, says Mike. What is the nature of truth. How does anyone ascertain what is true or is false. It’s a big question. Billions of man hours have been burned up over thousands of years to try and corner that question. It’s a moving target, it’s a challenging target and we need the RIGID discipline of reason , evidence, philosophy and so… empiricism to hang onto the truth which is a soap-slippery son of a b*tch, frankly.
So, what is the nature of truth? How do you know what is true and what is false? What is epistemologically valid, great question. And Scott… and it’s a trap. Because if Scott says ‘It’s really hard to figure out what is true and what is false’, then that’s honest. But then, the whole segment on “fake news” collapses.
So Scott has to say, has to say that it’s easy. Scott says ‘Why you ask questions, you verify the information, it’s not that hard’. Asking questions is (…). You ask questions. You verify the information. How do you verify the information? How do you even chose which segments to run. It’s a big question. How do you chose when and how you’re going to do a story on “fake news”? What’s your agenda? What’s your purpose? What’s your goal? What can you talk about in terms of your gender, your purpose, your goal? What do you have to hide? How are you going to organize things? How are you going to present things? What are the questions you’re going to ask? How are you going to edit the interview? How are you going to boil it down to the essential issues? It’s a very big question.
He says, ‘Well, you ask questions, you verify the information. Of course, epistemology asks the question: How do you verify the information? How do you verify the information? Scott’s answer is not even a tautology. ‘You verify the information’. How do you verify the information? ‘You verify the information.’ Yea, I’m going to some investors , and I say “I’m gonna cure cancer, give me a billion dollars.” And they say ‘Well, how are you going to cure cancer?’ And I say “I’m going to cure cancer”. And they has ‘How are you going to cure cancer, how is it proven?’ And I say,” I’m going to cure cancer, what do you not understand, give me the billion dollars”. You understand?
Well, how do you know what is true? ‘Well, you verify.’ But that’s just the synonym for true. (…)
So Mike, incredulous, incredulous. A beautiful moment. “Finding the truth is not that hard?” Scott: ‘ I do it all the time’. Sorry, that was prejudicial mocking, but its true. ‘I do it all the time.’ ‘I find the truth all the time.’
The fact that the mainstream media may have set in motion events that are taking down Western Civilization, you would think that it would give them some pause, about how they process truth, what they write. So they media was cheerleading the invasion of Iraq. ‘There are weapons of mass destruction.’ How do you know? ‘The government told us.’ ‘Because you ask question, you verify information. If the government tell you stuff that it’s true… [grimaced face]. Creepy, creepy…(…) rip out your heart and mind from the chilled spinelessness form the jellyfish leftist indoctrination. So Good Lord… Start the war in Iraq. War in Iraq leads to massive destruction, and destruction in the region. Leads to terrorism. Arguably leads to Syria, the destruction of Syria. Leads to the destruction of Libya. Founding of ISIS. Floods of migrants into Europe. I mean, come on, is there no humility, no sense of “what the hell did we do wrong”, no guilt, no shame, no horror. How do these people get out of bed in the morning?
And Mike rightly points out that there are two worlds, which is around what the definition of truth are. [Ed note: In essence, there are only two, i.e. ‘adaequatio rei et intellectus’ vs ‘adaequatio realis mentis et vitae’] What the definitions of truth are. That is fantastic. The fact that different definitions of truth lead to different world views that are utterly irreconcilable is exactly right. I’ve been saying it for years and years. (…)
That is an excellent question. Once people understand the essence of the definitions of civilization, what do you define as moral, as right, as true, as good, as civilized, definitions are all that we have to deal with each other in a peaceful way. When the definitions crack, society cracks. When the definitions become oppositional , society becomes oppositional. And we better get this stuff sorted out and damned quickly. Because opposing definitions have never, ever in history been as well armed as they are today.
And finally, that last paragraph is a gem!
All I will add here is that as opposed to Francis, the bishop of Rome who is a cryptic post-Modernist, with Sterfan Molyneus, we are dealing with a genuine functional Thomist.
PS Oh and by the way, sounds like this would be something with which the Dominicans could help…
PPS Post 60 Minutes Victory interview:
Sic transit gloria mundi!
PPPS The reviews are coming in here…