One angry old man against the world
What exactly is a fact? Many would say that it’s an indisputable truth! Some would refer you to the well known statement “death and taxes”. We will all die, certainly, but the means and nature of an individuals death will vary greatly: Some will die by their own hand, some by the hand of another, some by the hand of the State (war or execution,) some by disease, some by accident, some by hunger or thirst, and some by old age. As to taxes, again the amount an individual pays will vary enormously. If you are poor, you will pay the maximum. If you are rich, you will pay very little, if anything. The Western financial system is heavily weighted against the poor. Then of course, there is the black economy. That also contributes very little – often nothing – to a countries economy. As you can see, even the old ‘death and taxes’ is NOT a simple ‘indisputable truth.’ Basically any ‘so called fact,’ means a very different thing to each individual concerned.
If we take a stuffy subject like ‘history,’ then we dig deep enough, we discover that again, it’s an individuals ‘point of view.’ Take any battle back through time and study the history books of the countries involved, the accounts portrayed in each will have little in common because each was written by an individual with a different perspective on what actually took place in that battle. Each of us ‘sees’ the world differently, it’s not just the ‘prejudices’ and ‘values’ instilled in us by each ‘education’ system, but also the many different ‘experiences’ that life throws at us as we move through time in our own particular country.
Many a mathematician will tell you that ‘maths’ is based on ‘irrefutable facts’, but again dig back through history and you will find many changes to those ‘irrefutable facts’ and an awful lot of plagiarism. A good many equations and ‘proofs’ attributed to the famous names of the past were often discovered much earlier in ‘far Eastern’ cultures and conveniently forgotten. Also many of the ‘sciences’ go through a major ‘upheaval’ once in awhile as ‘proofs’ are ‘disproved’, plus there are so many conflicting ‘theories’ held by the practitioners of the various sciences, that usually the one with the most money and/or power gets his theory published as the established ‘fact’. That is until a more believable ‘theory’ comes along. Then there are ‘modern’ branches of ‘science’; string theory, quantum physics, A.I., and genetics, most of which seem to change almost daily, depending on who makes the challenge. Science, – like the majority of knowledge – seems to be mostly about power and influence.
One of the biggest plagiarists and one of the biggest names in science was Isaac Newton, and most accept him as the discoverer of the ‘rules’ and equations of gravity, because most of the history books say it’s a fact. But if you dig deep enough, you will learn of a man almost forgotten by history, who was the most prolific inventor Briton had ever seen. His peers and students called him the British Leonardo de Vinci. Some of his many inventions include; the sash window, the microscope, (he coined many of the modern terms used in microbiology and laid the groundwork for biological evolution,) he made enormous improvements to the telescope, was involved in the development of steam engines, time piece design; (escapement and gear cutting by machine, the balance spring, and the pendulum.) He built Boyle’s vacuum pumps, and helped Babbage with his difference engine. He was granted a large number of patents for inventions and refinements in the fields of elasticity, optics, and biometry. He worked on Palaeontology, Earthquakes, Astronomy and even human memory.
He was also a brilliant architect. Appointed by London as Surveyor to the City after the great fire. He was responsible for sewers, paving, bridges, quays, markets and public clocks. He designed many of London’s landmarks, including; the Monument, the Royal College of Physicians, Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam), Alderman Aske’s Hospital, Greenwich Observatory, Montague House, (to name a few). He was involved in the alterations to Westminster Abbey, supervised the construction of more than 30 of Wren’s London churches, and helped Wren design and build St Paul’s, although Wren got all the credit because Wren’s biography was written by his doting son.
His name was Robert Hooke. He started work at the Royal Society as a general ‘dogsbody’ and worked his way up to become the curator of experiments. A meticulous model maker and theorist with a brilliant intellect, he lectured on all things mechanical. He worked out the planet’s motions, the inverse square law, refraction, and the wave theory of light, long before Newton published his claims to the facts. When he accused Newton (who was now the ‘President’ at the Society by wealth and power) of plagiarism, Newton was furious, he sacked Hooke and set out to wipe him from the history books. He burned his notes, destroyed all his models and even burned his portrait, and almost achieved his aim. But some of his notebooks with reference to various models and experiments survived, plus notes and patents, letters, dedications and comments from the many famous people he had helped with their problems, or the man would not exist.
As most of the ‘greats’ from history are also the rich and powerful of the day, I wonder how many more ‘poor’ contributors to the world of knowledge were wiped from history by those powerful thieves and plagiarists.
If you do your research on Hooke, you will find two very different versions of the man’s character and various historians have followed the story they believe. This is a classic example of what I mean by “point of view”. My ‘point of view’ goes with the man who left us such an enormous wealth of useful knowledge, beautiful architecture and practical inventions.
Many ‘so called facts’ are designed to give you someone else’s view of the world. Use research, Logic and ‘common sense’ to work out your own view of the world and you’ll be a lot closer to the real truth. Therefore I say “question everything,” and beware of pronouncements from the rich, or any of their companies, think tanks, public relations spokespersons, or press releases.
Take special care with ‘Political facts’, politicians employ spin doctors to write their speech’s and make pronouncements to the media in such a way that the included ‘facts’ are difficult to check. For example: Informing the media that a particular politician voted against a particular bill to stop a terror group is fact checkable. Stating that the same politician “did nothing to stop that same terror group” is not fact-checkable.
Or, from Dennis Skinner in Parliament:
D.S. “Half the politicians opposite are crooks!”
Speaker of the house: “Will the honorable member withdraw that statement?”
D.S. “Very well, Half the members opposite are not crooks!”
Older Politicians can manipulate the English language to achieve exactly the effect they require, – as above – remember, the use of language is their stock in trade, and some of them have been ‘at it’ a long time and are very skilled indeed!
All political and Government speak is purposely vague, therefore if it’s not specific, and you cant get a straight answer, ignore it, it’s not a fact.