In the Absence of Proof

In the absence of proof there is no truth. Lacking incontrovertible evidence, every experience is a lie, every memory is created in a cracked vacuum suddenly filled with biased fiction. Evidence cannot prove an event never occurred, so whether it did nor not is immaterial. Without evidence to the contrary, it must have taken place. And vice versa. If an event is said to have occurred, absent evidence, it most certainly did not.

Historical records are suspect. Even contemporaneous records are created after the fact, so they cannot be trusted. The subject of their documentation is colored by the lens through which the contemporary historian interprets “facts.”

The colors of facts are not black and white but, instead, a million shades of grey and green and fuschia and every tone along the spectrum. Facts look different from every angle of observation. An irrational tangle of metal, from one angle, looks like an irrational tangle of metal. From another angle, the one from which the artist see it, it casts a crisp shadow of a dead President. The visions are not really facts. They are interpretations of perception.

Scientists will tell you…at least the honest ones will…that proof is impossible. Proof is an illusive objective that can never be determined because all the facts can never be known. But scientists rely on evidence that support theories to which other scientists readily subscribe. If evidence refutes a theory, the theory changes to reflect the evidence.

Especially now, when facts are treated as utterly subjective and personal, we can be sure only that the more information we get, the less we know. We cannot rely on the preponderance of evidence because evidence is like truth; without proof, it is meaningless.

“We hold these truths to be self evident…” We did, once. We valued rational thought and accepted the conclusions to which it led. We disagreed, even with rational arguments, but we based our disagreements on mutually accepted facts. Beliefs colored our world, but facts tended to support our beliefs. And even if our beliefs had no factual basis, we accepted and acknowledged that reality.

There will come a time when we return to the rationality of the early twenty-first century. Until then, we must muddle through as we try to drown out a voice belonging to someone we hope will become the subject of an artist’s irrational tangle of metal.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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