How can we know what’s true?

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Robert Wills
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with asking how we know
what we know. It’s one of those university courses easily dismissed by ‘when am I ever going to need this in real life?’  

Robert Wills
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with asking how we know
what we know. It’s one of those university courses easily dismissed by ‘when am I ever going to need this in real life?’  
The coming of the ‘Information Age’ brought astounding, sometimes overwhelming advances in data sharing, but with that came a flood of distracting data – more
misinformation than enlightenment. 
With the federal election looming, it’s a good time to hone our powers of discernment. Politicians and commentators will be assaulting our senses with elaborate projections, involving incomprehensible sums of money. Here are a few points to remember, in parsing the real from the imaginary, and the imaginary from the outright bovine excrement:
Much of what passes for ‘news’ these days is second-hand opinion, with little or no basis in fact. Opinions are like elbows; most of us have a couple, but who else needs to hear about them? Most of the ‘news’ you read, watch or hear, is irrelevant to your life. True or not, does it really matter what the Kardashians are wearing this week? If you don’t know the people involved, if you can’t do anything to help or hinder, if you can’t personally check out the facts, you might just as well ignore it. 
Above the level of MRC, you probably don’t know the candidates personally. The whole process is entangled in party politics, so the person you vote for is not in a
position to make meaningful decisions. Therefore, what the candidate says in campaigning is an empty promise, based upon what the central party committee has guessed you want to hear. Candidates who do not expect to win can promise anything without consequences. Those who do win can blame their failure to deliver on the other party. The polls between elections are a waste of time and pixels. It’s a small sampling of opinions, subject to change without reason.
No politician actually does anything. We elect them to direct funding towards those who do stuff. If you guess correctly, and vote accordingly, those funds (your tax dollars) will be allocated to necessary and worthwhile projects. In order to comprehend the amounts involved, shave three to six zeroes off
the end. Then, the hopeful candidate will be claiming to spend $14.27 on a new bridge. Most of us can imagine what $14.27 means, but what does $1.4 billion mean to us? If you were given a pile of loonies, at birth, you couldn’t count out a billion dollars in one lifetime. 
Remember, one vote each is just that; one vote among many. We don’t necessarily get the result we want, and neither does anyone else. You can complain about the outcome of the election, the hockey game or the weather, but the snow still falls, and the wrong team wins 50% of the time.