User:Nicola.georgiou/sandbox/Approaches to Knowledge/Seminar group 4/Truth

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Gene Editing[edit]

Truth in Physical Education[edit]

Truth: a fact or belief that is accepted as true.​ Disciplinary status gives worth. ​Disciplines vary in how much value is put on a fact or belief, and how to come to a fact or belief or skill.​ Truth within a discipline is a time-honoured basis of knowledge, fortified through generations.​ Historically, Physical Education determined how strong men were. In Ancient Greece, athletes were renowned and sport very popular. Indeed, physical education became a cultural activity (e.g. attending fights and throwing the javelin). However, this discipline was also a kind of punishment. Physical Education is an established subject in the school curriculum since the late 1800s. The importance of exercising at school and in higher education is to show a healthy body and healthy mind. But is it an academic discipline? In the midst of this debate, Physical Education universally exhibits a pluralist truth.

Is Physical Education a discipline?

The academic research methodologies Physical Education calls upon are rooted in other disciplines such as biology, physics, medicine, anatomy​. Physical Education itself doesn't have one methodology to find truth.​ In practical application truth is undefinable as it is based on the progress of individual rather than body of knowledge.​ The research which can be passed down and built on crosses disciplines.​ Physical Education is cross-disciplinary. The status of cross-disciplinary loses academic worth and is not valued by society generally as it traverses bodies of knowledge without cultivating its own knowledge. Increased value, leading to societal worth, should come from those in power. UK Independent schools place physical education and sport equally as high as academic rigour, however state schools are being forced to decrease time on physical education due to examination pressures controlled by the government. The UK Education system is cultivating a paradigm where academic success is of paramount importance. In this way, time invested in less valued/academic subjects is being reduced.

Truth within Physical Education[edit]

Physical Education exercises various typologies of truth from various academic disciplines. Typically associated with sciences and engineering, positivist methodologies incorporated in this field include personal numerical data, such as tracking personal bests and measuring empirical data within the body, such as drug intake and heart rate. Whereas there is an acute awareness for the individual undertaking the activity through interpretive and constructivist outlooks, traditionally associated with the arts and humanities. Interpretive truth is prevalent in the mind of the individual mindfulness and personal training plans. Constructivist truth is also essential for individual improvement in Physical Education as a holistic attitude is required to improve and maintain and keep health, such as diet and lifestyle, blurring the boundaries between Physical Education and general wellbeing. Where Physical Education does have truth is in direct application to the self and community; learning life skills including confidence, communication, responsibility, respect, culture.

In seeking truth within PE as a discipline, we have revealed two key insights.
1. PE is a cross-discipline.
2. PE has pluralist truth.

This paper was our main source, it explores definitions around disciplines.

Franklin M. Henry (1978) The Academic Discipline of Physical Education, Quest, 29:1, 13-29

Truth in Avocado Farming[edit]

Truth presents itself as an interdisciplinary  issue in revealing the infrastructure enabling the creamy green 'superfood' - the avocado, to be put on supermarket shelves around the world at all times of the year. The phenomena arose in the late 90s in America as the nation saw a landslide turn towards improving their health and diet. Dubbed the 'ultimate superfood' from the epicentre of this movement, the Haps Avocado Board (HAB) in California, avocado sales took a meteoric rise over the next decade. Between 2000 to 2015, avocado sales rocketed by 300% worldwide to have a net turn over of £1.9bn per annum[1]. In truth, this was only made possible as trade restrictions were lifted from Mexico enabling free trade in the 1990s. Consequently, meeting the ever-increasing demand for avocados was only made possible between cultivating the fruit in US and Mexico.

HAB's mission statement is to "help make avocados America' most popular fruit"[2] , yet despite their marketing efforts they could have never foreseen the technological boom and rise of social media, notably Instagram. Every day, 3 millions pictures new pictures of halved, sliced and cut avocado sweep the digital platform [3]. The avocado had been greeted UK shelves back in 1960s, but it was the age of Instagram that propelled the movement forward. In the UK, supermarkets such as Waitrose reported a 30% sales increase after Nigella Lawson was broadcasted making "avocado on toast". Attracting social status fans such as Gwyneth Paltow, Kim Kardascien and Miley Cyrus- it is understandable why the nation and world alike has  become so obsessed. Additionally, avocados are nutritionally is very healthy. The composition of monounsaturated fatty acids which can help reduce the risks of heart disease and lower levels of cholesterol, it is high in fibre and is a rich source of protein as well as many beneficiary vitamins.[3] Clearly we can identify the truths as to why the fruit has become so ubiquitous through the explosion of social media, but there is a dark underbelly to avocado production. The reality it that avocado cultivation is indirectly fuelling deforestation, economically charging drug cartels and monopolising water supplies to the point of famine. [4]

Since the US enabled full trading access to the American market with Mexico, the fruit has become very important to the economy of Mexico. Therefore it is no surprise that in  Mexico is the largest producer and exporter of the goods dominating 33.9% of the international market in 2016, and the United States is their biggest importer .These figures are expected to rise as the product's market is now extending out to Asian countries such as China in 2017 as well as maintaining consistently increasing demands from the American market.[5] For these reasons, what is the impact on Mexico? In the Mexican journal El Pais, the article The Curse of the Mexican avocado explores the violence, deforestation and threat to producer in the state of Michoacan - the capital of avocado farming in the world. The fruits are native to the region, but as local grower Jose Luis Mata details: "They grow by themselves around here. But a lot more have been planted in recent years, and it's changed everyone's lives"[6] . The state has been butchered by avocados: what before was called "green gold" is rapidly referred to as "blood guacamole" [1]. Due to its economic value, Michoacan has experience a rise in organise crime including robbery, abduction and extortion as cartels seek to partake in this booming industry. Whereas before growers would work directly with distributors under contracts that included health insurance and benefits, they are now subcontracted at hourly rates in laborious and exhausting working conditions. But as local farmer Francisco Hinojosa, 50, states - "If we don't cut, we don't eat"[6] .

Alongside Mexico, other major producers of the fruit are Dominican Republic, Peru, Colombia and Indonesia[7]. In reality, it is a a rescue to the industry that upcoming nations are joining the global market due to the difficult realities in producing avocados due to their sensitivity to climate and water demands. Even still, the fact is that avocados are a "water-guzzling crop"[4]. In order to produce roughly 3 avocados, 1000 litres of water is necessary. By contrast, the likes of producing an equivalent volume of broccoli takes around 45 litres[1] . Environmentally this means that producers not only are having to create more space viable to grow the crop, they are having to seek greater quantities of water. For some farmers in Mexico, this involves interrupting natural streams to access water and cutting down trees to grow and transport the goods which is bastardising the environment. On  perhaps a more harrowing note, in Petorca, Chile, water has become privatised. Even before the boom of the avocado, there has been a devastating water crisis in the region were riverbeds have dried up with rising temperatures. The realities of this mean that only those who can pay can gain access to water in purchasing a 'water license'. While international businesses are yielding thriving crops in these regions, the local farmers are forced to retire as they cannot afford the license agree. For the locals of Petorca, they are dying of thirst. The only water they have access to is transported in via trucks on a weekly basis despite being surround by thousands of litres of waters in the region that are exclusively available to commercial avocado farmers. Human rights activists have seemed to raise attention about these issues, and in doing so have received death threats in continuing their efforts.

How is truth an issue in avocado farming? There are uncomfortable truths in the realities of the avocation production and distribution which are being blinded by entities within these network of relations. For the consumer, it may seem easy to abstain from purchasing the fruit - but this would in fact worsen the situation whereby production is greater than demand. Truth arises again as an issue in the emerging discoveries that there is in fact no such thing as a superfood, a marketing strategy that spearheaded the markets boom and again could worsen the situation if sales were to rapidly fall. Truth presents itself as an issue for the producers and growers, for they are experiencing violations of their basic human rights in the cultivation of the crop and these realities are not being voiced to the global community. Therefore, truth is an issue in avocado farming because impacts on the environment and workforce are dangerously overlooked in exponentially growing industries.

Truth in Neuroscience (Written by Maria Blackburn, Manca Rakun and Iris Perigaud-Grünfeld)[edit]

The scientific research "desire[s] to acquire knowledge whose veracity is universally recognised"[8]. Thus, science aims for the objective truth and neuroscience has the very same goal.

First, it uses definitional truth - neuroscience is based on definitions : what is the brain, what are the different parts of the brain, what is a neuron,etc.

Second, it also uses empirical approaches or objective truth to build its researches. One evidence is the use of MRI. By using MRI, researchers look at scans in order to explain diseases and the functioning of the nervous system. Another example is the use of lie-detectors. The research is still in progress, but its development could have an impact in fields such as law (using it as an evidence of the witness' credibility). However, there are many issues with the technology, from ethical questions to the accuracy of the detector. What is more is that an individual's perception of truth is in contrast to scientific truth, subjective (truth present in humanities) - meaning that even if we had, hypothetically, a 100% accurate lie detector, we would not be able to acquire the so called objective truth. to illustrate this claim, let's say that there is a colour-blind person as a subject to our lie detector test. If you ask him what colour are tomatos, he will probably not say red (our objective truth, based on scientific findings), but let's say orange (his subejctive truth) - but does that make him a liar? Hardly so, and while our lie detector might detect whether someone is lying, this in fact means only that it will detect whether someone is laying on the basis of their subjective truth, while objective truth is beyond its reach (with the exception when, hypothetically, the individual's subjective truth would be the same as objective truth)

In conclusion, we can find both truths : objective (scientific) and subjective (humanitarian) truths in neuroscience. What this means is that despite its scientific nature, neuroscience has to be concerned also with some non-scientific aspects, making it necessary to conduct its reasearch in interdisciplinary way in order to gain greater understanding of the process being researched.


Critical Neuroscience: A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience, Steven Rose

Physics theories and Truth:[edit]

Physical theories try to describe as truthfully as possible the laws of nature. However these theories do not always describe reality. In fact, these theories evolve over time. Some of them get altered, others that don’t align with new theories are abandoned. For example, in classical physics, Newton and Galilee both affirmed that the speed of light could change, depending on the frame of reference of the observer. They also stated that time is absolute; it flows the same way in different external conditions, in every frame of reference. Both of these theories were considered true at the time. Physicians believed that they accurately described the physical laws of nature. However, these classical physics theories got questioned at the beginning of the 20th century, when the concept of relativity first emerged. Indeed, in 1905, Einstein determined the theory of special relativity which states that the speed of light is always the same and that flow of time can actually vary. Einstein affirmed that the time separating two events depends on the frame of reference of the observer. Two clocks in relative motion will not measure the same time. The Einstein theories are now considered to be true and have replaced the classical physics theories.

Another example can be seen in the way the view of the universe and the way planets orbit changed over time:

Plato 427-348 BC: Stars and planets move in perfect circular motion, because of the idea of heavens being perfect and circle being simplest and best form. Earth at center = Geocentrism Copernicus 1473-1543: Sun rather than Earth at center > Copernican revolution > Heliocentrism Johannes Kepler 1571-1630: Elliptical instead of circular orbits. Published in 1609.

But rather than completely replacing the old theories, these Physicists made improvements/ alterations to the theories that already existed. Additionally, it often took years for these theories to actually be proved and accepted. Before Copernicus the geocentric model was accepted as the “truth”, and before Kepler it was accepted as the “truth” that the Earth is at the center of the universe and the sun and planets orbit around it. The actual truth didn’t change, but our knowledge of it altered and improved as more scientific studies were made and more evidence was found.

Sources: Gregory, Andrew. Eureka! : the Birth of Science / Andrew Gregory. Cambridge : Icon, 2001.



Early medicine - Differed between cultures, development came at different times in different places - Witchdoctors - Herbal remedies - Gods/ religion - Trial and error - Alternative medicine - Serious and disabling diseases treated as having supernatural causes. - Ayurveda

Modern medicine - The enlightenment 19th century - Treating science as reason rather than philosophical - Factory working due to industrial revolution – spread of infectious disease - Western medicine. More common in western developed countries.

What is truth in medicine?[edit]

• In medicine, the decision on whether or not to treat someone or relieve them of moral responsibility relies on if that person has a disease. • Health vs disease – sometimes give a more holistic approach especially in modern medicine. • Basic concepts in Medicine/ words used – diagnosis, prognosis, disease, treatment, drugs.

Scientific Objectivity in Medicine:

Truth is rooted in culture - medicine is a scientific ‘subculture’ Can it obtain objective truth? (Assuming this exists)

Aims for scientific objectivity Observations —> theories (based on clinical and scientific evidence) Paradigm: Evidence = truth Theory = inference • theories and hypotheses guide research and experimentation - do they take away from objectivity? • Empirical research - positivist approach • Medicine also considers patient experience - interpretive approach

Mix of positivist and pluralist • ‘truths’ of basic medical knowledge e.g. systems in the body and how they work • An incomplete science - doctors look at the best evidence to make a recommendation

Science should explain the world that we experience through our senses ... however “The history of science is a tale of multifarious shiftings of allegiance from theory to theory” • so does medicine even concern itself with truth? • Looking for objective truth can limit a holistic approach to health and wellbeing

Sources: Grant Gillett, 2006 ‘Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine’, BioMed Central volume 1, Article 13 (15th October core lecture on Truth


Physics - brilliant examples given. Particularly the evolution of what is held to be truth within astronomy. Both draws attention to what is held to be fact, and how over time new theories come about that contest it. “Truth in physics never changed, but our knowledge did.” Fascinating insight into our role as the experimenter and the limitations of our tools and known knowledge. Neuroscience - So exciting to trace history of the discipline back to Ancient Egypt, who them like ourselves in the modern days are seeking objective truth to understand the anatomy of the brain. Advances in this field now working intricately with psychology to better understand the composition of the brain and how it can influence behaviour etc. Medicine- “Medicine Isn’t looking for truth, rather improving our approaches to health”. The group touched upon a powerful insight as Medicine as a meta-discipline, and the necessity of its incomplete science status to urge the field to keep researching, to keep looking.

There are uniting features of truth in all these disciplines; the inevitable subjectivity intertwined with the nature of the experiment/experimenter and an innate curiosity, almost a gravity, within their fields to continue to enrich their bodies of knowledge.

Discussing Nietzche’s quote on universal truth, idea of knowledge as a fusion of different experiences on the same events. The purpose of interdisciplinary in its search for truth was an exciting conversation. Above all, it illustrated the danger of isolated pools of knowledge whereby people can forget to question and evaluate time honoured truths.

Finding truth[edit]

After the seminar, I remembered the comparison made by Einstein and Infield in The Evolution of Physics between the scientist who tries to understand the world and a man who tries to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. They both guess, create theories and improve them. However, when do they know that they have reached the truth?

In response to the above, this reminded me of a saxophone practise exercise in 'Top Tones for the Saxophone' by Sigurd M. Rascher[9], in which Rascher writes explains 'Tone Imagination' as hearing a specified note an interval above or below the pitch you are currently playing. In his description of the exercise, Rascher writes 'Because only I know what I think, only I can know whether I succeeded'. If you have no way of knowing or measuring outside of your own body of knowledge, how do you know when you have succeeded? This highlights the necessity of team work and interdisciplinarity, as many different perspectives of the goal line of truth, will enhance everyone's perspectives of that goal.

The Physiology of Truth, Neuroscience and Human Knowledge, JP Changeux (2004)[edit]

Chapter 7: Scientific Research and the Search for Truth[edit]

In Ancient Greece, different truths coexisted.  For example, in medicine, the Hippocratic school -based on scientific observation and on the separation with religious belief- worked simultaneously with the traditional school which understood disease as a divine punishment and cured it with rituals.

Ancient Greece has seen the development of two philosophical schools in philosophy: the first one was based on the collection of data and the second one was based on rules and theory. From the 15th century, these two trends opposed each other. On one hand, empiricism, supported by Bacon for example, is based on observation and claims that data produce theory. On the other hand, rationalism supports that theory structures the data. Descartes is a rationalist.

F. Jacob explains that the difference between science and myths is that myths do not change over time whereas science is in constant movement (critical skepticism) to improve its theories and findings in order to find the truth. What is the goal of religion? According to Durkheim, religion does not look for truth but for cooperation and solidarity in the society. It helps to tighten the social links. Thus, science and religion have different goals.

However, religion does have many aspects related to truth. A study[10] by Ardelt hypothesises different effects of intrinsic and extrinsic parts of religion. The extrinsic, attending group meetings, finds truth in community and a purpose of helping others as stated above. However, the intrinsic beliefs within various religions do search for a personal meaning of life, even if not supported by repeatable, positivist truths. Throughout time, humans have attributed phenomena beyond current positivist understanding to supernatural forces, notably seen in the myths referred to above, in order to find truth in the unknown. Could one argue that all beliefs come from either empiricism or rationalism, so with the knowledge held at the time of the formation of religions, they were to some degree scientific in their creation? This religious search for the 'truth' was popularly satirised by The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction novel and film, where the 'answer to life, the universe and everything' is calculated to be '42'. Religion is looked down on by scientific disciplines due to its lack of positivist truth, hence the satirical attempt to blend interpretivism and positivist truths. However, it has been shown that 'intrinsic religious orientation was positively related to approach acceptance of death[10]'. A lack of positivist truth does not correlate to a a lack of interpretivist truth, and more specifically, comfort in belief of that truth. However, with the decrease in religion[11], several groups have been set up to have the same extrinsic effects as religion without the belief in supernatural, such as finding the true meaning and purpose of life. The Sunday Assembly[12], is one example of a modern take on the traditions of community within religion blended with secular scientific positivism, bringing the goal of positivist understanding of the world, science, together the goal of a unified community, religion.

Cartography [note 1][edit]

"As powerful tools of persuasion [...], maps have had a remarkable effect on our view of the world [...]. At the root of their power is our frequently unquestioning acceptance of cartographic messages."

Mark Monmonier, Drawing the Line: Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy (1995, 1)

Every map is incorrect and there are two reasons for this. The first one is physical. The Earth is round and it is impossible to reproduce, from a sphere, a plan in two dimensions. Cartographers have developed different methods –cylindrical, conical... – but each of these methods produce compressions or extensions of some parts of the globe.  

The second reason is that a map does not aim to be completely accurate (cf. Suárez Miranda, Travels of Prudent Men, Book Four, Ch. XLV, Lérida, 1658)[note 2]. Creating a map implies to select features, to focus on an element and thus to forget about another one. A map delivers a message through how it is oriented, what it emphasizes on and what it marginalizes. For example, Guelke created a map on which Toronto is the center. Thus, the shape and size of the continents are misrepresented but it is not a problem because the only goal of the map is to know the distant between Toronto and other places in the world. The cartographer’s focus may be led by one’s culture by emphasizing on a country or a continent. For example, we usually take for granted that the North is at the top of the map and that Europe is (nearly) in the center of the map and I think it shows an Eurocentric vision of the world. Some models were created in reaction to this norm: in the McArthur’s model, Australia is at the top.

In conclusion, by working on cartography, the issues of truth, evidence and power are central. First, maps are a way to represent the globe. They do not deliver the reality but nonetheless give different perceptions of the globe, different truths. Then, maps should not be considered as neutral because they are influenced by the choices and the social and cultural background of the cartographer: they are subjective even though it is a science with tries to calculate objectively distances. Finally, maps may reveal a struggle for power: cartographers may have an egocentric mapping of the world or showcase one world view.


Many Ways to See the World (2005) Filmmakers: Bob Abramms, Ruth Abrams

  1. a b c
  3. a b
  4. a b
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  8. The Physiology of Truth, Neuroscience and human Knowledge Jean-Pierre Changeux
  10. a b Monika Ardelt PhD (2003) Effects of Religion and Purpose in Life on Elders' Subjective Well-Being and Attitudes Toward Death, Journal of Religious Gerontology, 14:4, 55-77, DOI: 10.1300/J078v14n04_04

  1. This paragraph could be integrated in truth, evidence or power.
  2. Another era which had a lot of importance on the discipline was with the development of technologies: satellites helped to map with a higher level of accuracy the Earth. However, it is important to distinguish mapping the planet and a map.