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HANDLING TRUTH: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research Paperback – January 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
He has an important argument to convey; he does it well; it's crucially important. I hope it sells millions and goes to every high school senior, and every person in political and religious and scientific office in the country.
Reconciling the four is virtually impossible when one is debating, another proselytizing, a third demanding logical proofs, and a fourth accepting only replicated research findings. This lack of convergence necessitates accommodating those differences if peace and harmony are to prevail. Gardner shows why democracies must impose the methods of rhetoric, logic, and research, while allowing freedom of, but not domination by the authoritarian truths of religious and ideological faiths. A must read for today's volatile world.
***** Five Stars
along with private detectives and the rest of us. It turns out, as in the song "Lookin' for Love,"
we may have been looking for truth in all the wrong places. William Gardner's interesting,
readable book Handling Truth helps us look in the right places.
According to Gardner, there are four domains of truth: Mystica (which includes religion),
Rhetorica (common sense), Logica (reason), and Empirica (research). Each domain has its own
rules for deciding what is true; this means the domains often conflict with one another. For
instance, in the Empirica domain, truth is revealed only through supportive research data.
Reason alone is insufficient. In the Mystica domain, "God created man," is a truth unacceptable
by the rules of Empirica. In Empirica, "Human beings evolved from an earlier species." Is any
domain superior to another? No, but each has its own assumptions; and the listener or reader
should learn to recognize each domain and the boundaries of its truth claims.
In Chapter 9, "Truth, Language and Information," Gardner connects human language
development with emergence of the four truth domains. From primitive referential gesturing,
humans evolved to speak, then write and read. The printing press invention made information
available to all, and computers further accelerated its supply. As language and its dissemination
methods evolved, so did our conceptions of truth. Thanks to abundant print materials and the
Internet, we are more informed now than ever before, but also less discerning. Gardner reminds
us that information is true only within its domain of origin.
Handling Truth is an excellent book, one you will find yourself referring to long past the first
read. I particularly recommend it for college undergraduate courses. As a retired teacher
education professor, I regret that Handling Truth was unavailable when I was teaching.