There is Nothing Called Universal Truth

“My Dad is the best Dad in the world.”

No one likes to hear a lie. It’s worse when it comes from a kid. The above oft-heard statement about fathers however technically becomes a lie as soon as a second kid repeats it. Because there can’t be two best things of one kind in the world.

Think from the perspective of an individual kid however. If anything, the above statement speaks volumes about his integrity and affection. So what’s more important? Truth or loyalty? Depends on situation I think.

Perspective has the power of turning truth into lie and vice versa. We may think that what we see and hear are truths. Not necessarily, if we zoom out beyond our perspective. The processes of vision and hearing aided by the devices (internal and external) we possess determine what we see and hear. The observations don’t necessarily reflect universal truths. They are what the nature wants us to observe. The same applies to what we feel.

Optics tells us that when a light ray reflected from an object enters your eyes, you see the object. Simple. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

What if we had only one eye? The above optical process would have still worked. But what we would have seen is a 2D image with no depth perception. We would not have had stereoscopic vision which results from fusion behind the scenes of images from the two eyes. No matter how big his eye was, Mike Wazowski couldn’t see 3D!

There are ‘colours’ that are invisible to human eyes and ‘sounds’ not audible to human ears. We do not think of ‘infra-red’ as a ‘colour’ because it is not visible to us, but characteristics-wise it is no more different from red than orange is. What spiders observe via ultraviolet light is very much a fact for them even though it won’t make sense to our naked eyes.

How we see also determines how we feel about a subject. Filmmakers use this perception of vision to great effects. For instance, let’s have an actor with a fixed horizontal stare. A camera looking down at him from above and a camera capturing him in the same position from below will make us feel completely differently about the character. The first view makes him vulnerable in our eyes, whereas the second one makes him venerable as we look up to him on the big screen.

Perspectives also affect understanding. Mankind has struggled with deciphering the genetic code in spite of its discovery decades ago. It is not odd to think that deciphering such codes requires a thought process based on a system very different from the decimal system we are so used to and computing prowess built on a foundation very different from the binary base we have employed. Until we discover the fundamentals we would at best have a blurry picture of what’s inside every gene.

Science and technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. Our perspective still remains human-centric though. We know a great deal about heart and less about spleen. We know almost everything of human body and not so much of other animals. In comparison, plants are the ignored lot though their parts and processes are much simpler. We don’t care much about the all-pervading microbes and omnipresent viruses until they affect our lives. We map in details locations of underground water, yet there are many unknown facts about deep oceans. Mars is so dear to us. An equidistant Venus not so much.

Research & Development is not secular; it’s heavily biased towards our immediate needs and convenience. So is our world view.

Writer, scientist, filmmaker, executive… basically a creative explorer; contact abhijit AT abhijitdeonath DOT com

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