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So, is that, like, really true or just KMart true? - Hurtling Butt-First Through Time [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

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So, is that, like, really true or just KMart true? [May. 15th, 2015|01:41 pm]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

I've always been interested in the line between "jet engine" truth and gospel or "perceived" truth.  Jet engine truth is the truth that one must know and practice to build a jet engine that works.  It is quite tightly constrained.  A Pratt & Whitney engine is not going to be identical to General Electric engine, but they are going to be very similar because you can only vary so much from jet engine truth before your engine won't start or flames out or bursts into flames or never gets built in the first place.  Not everyone knows these truths or cares about them, but, for there to be jet engines, somebody has to and they need to be very rigorous in their knowledge and practice of them. Jet engine truth is universal in the sense that it doesn't vary much from Brazil to the US to the UK. It can't or it won't work and you can tell if it works or not.

Gospel truth seems to exist in a lumpy fog.  People can and do disagree vehemently about where the lumps are and what the lumps are and what they mean.  People can assign so much meaning to the nature and location of a lump that it becomes to them as important and exacting as the functioning of a jet engine: Any significant variance in their perception of the lump can cause them to crash and burn in an almost literal sense . But, not far down the road, there are people who understand the same lumps differently or assign life-affirming significance to different lumps or don't see any lumps at all. The folks down the road get along just as well, more or less, as the first group.

The main difference, I guess, is that jet engine truth is inherent truth that is baked into the laws of physics and the nature of the universe and it is demonstrable. Gospel truth is assigned truth; it's as true as we say it is in whatever way we say it is

I thought there must be a continuum between jet engine truth and gospel truth or between hard truths and soft truths. Now, though, I'm beginning to think they are two different things.

. . .

It almost boils down to: If you can argue about it, it's not true—not really. If a “truth” is demonstrable then you simply demonstrate it and the argument's over. The truths that one must know and embrace to build a functioning jet engine are only arguable to a point and within pretty tightly constrained limits. If you vary from them much, your engine will fail—demonstrably. The Challenger disaster that Tierza mentioned was a flaming example (pun viciously intended) of faith-based engineering. It's just important to know, I think, that arguable truths have only the meaning we give them; they are only as true and important as we say they are. In my opinion, we can drop them any time we wish and repair to the garage to build a bird feeder, practicing the inarguable truths of hammers and nails.