Bill Dunn: What is Truth? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Hyatt's site

Two-thousand years ago Pontius Pilate sarcastically sneered, "What is truth?" He was so convinced that its impossible to know the real truth about anything, he didnt even realize he was at that moment staring at truth itself.

For many decades now our society has been steadily moving away from honesty, morality, and logic. We have abandoned critical thinking skills and a quest for truth, and instead we have emphasized feelings and emotions.

Truth is no longer clear and firm. It is now relative and situational. "If its true for you, its true," we hear far too often. "If it feels right, it must be right." In todays society, feelings equal facts and emotions equal evidence.

When our Commander-in-Chief wagged his finger at us last year and then later tortuously quibbled over the meaning of the word "is," we plainly saw that truth is not an important concept anymore.

Spin now reigns supreme. As explained in an earlier editorial, there are three basic rules about spin: 1) include at least a tiny grain of fact somewhere in the statement, 2) promote the best interest of the person or organization making the statement, and 3) if rule number 1 gets in the way of rule number 2, ignore rule number 1.

The most important question about Y2K is: Who can we trust?

Can we trust government bureaucrats? Business spokespersons? Computer programmers? Politicians? Preachers? Economists?

Everyone claims to be speaking the truth, but are they really? Do they consciously or even sub-consciously have an agenda which clouds their statements? Is it in their personal or financial best interest to "spin" the Y2K issue? Do they confuse feelings with facts, presenting an unreasonably optimistic forecast simply because the alternative is so unpleasant?

The following ideas have been proclaimed as "truth" in recent months:

Y2K awareness + spending money = Y2K success, regardless of when the organization began working on the problem.

Personal preparation will cause panic.

People preaching preparation are scam artists trying to get rich.

Those who are preparing are extremistseither anti-government terrorists or religious fanatics.

However, the same people and organizations making those supposedly truthful statementswhich are discouraging consumers from getting prepared, by the wayhave been caught many times making blatantly erroneous claims about Y2K progress. For example:

The Department of Defense was admonished twice by the Pentagons inspector generals office for misrepresenting Y2K compliance progress. One high-level Defense official admitted a "shoot the messenger" mentality caused military systems managers to sugar-coat progress reports to their superiors.

The Health Care Financing Administration (which manages Medicare) claimed 54 external mission-critical computer systems were compliant on Dec. 31, 1998. The assistant comptroller general for the General Accounting Office revealed in April, 1999, that the claim was not truenone of the 54 systems were compliant.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, claimed on Sept. 29, 1998, that the agency was 99 percent done with Y2K repairs. On March 5, 1999, the FAA inspector general said only 31 percent of the agencys computers were fixed.

The new governor of California, Gray Davis, announced on Feb. 17, 1999, that 75 percent of the states critical computer systems were Y2K-ready. The next day, state Auditor General Kurt Sjoberg said that less than one-third of the states critical systems were ready.

When we began researching the Y2K issue quite a while ago, we knew that 1999 would be a complicated year. We understood that the unprecedented Year 2000 Computer Problem would lend itself to a lot of spin and confusion. But we really thought that with some hard work and diligent study, the plain truth about Y2K would become obvious.

Regrettably, we were too optimistic. We underestimated how fierce and coordinated the "No big problem" spin campaign would be. We didnt anticipate that "Were on schedule!" would become a relentless mantra despite glaring proof that most organizations are not on schedule. We didnt expect usually tenacious investigative journalists to report corporate press releases as unquestionable facts. And we certainly didnt think that the folks making prudent preparations would be labeled as the real Y2K problem.

The unfortunate result of all this is that the American people are on their own. Each person must gather information from as many different sources as possible and draw his or her own conclusions about what may happen when the new century arrives.

But please remember what weve learned over the years (and especially during this last year) about the way big government and big business handle the truth. They, like Pontius Pilate, treat the question, "What is truth?" with nothing more than a sarcastic sneer.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), June 11, 1999


A truth is a statement, with the characteristic of producing abstractions in the recipient of the statement that form as nearly as possible a one to one corrospondence between these abstractions and the abstractions of the transmitter of the statement in reference to consensus reality.

A lie is a statement that produces abstractions in the recipient which do not corrospond to the abstractions of the transmitter re consensus reality.

All clear now?

-- Paul Davis (, June 11, 1999.

truth??>>jesus said I AM the truth,not a part of the truth, i didn,t say it he did. c,mon with the sarcasm, AH, AMAZING..GRACE i once was blind,

-- al-d. (, June 11, 1999.

jesus was a dupe of the conspiracy and a pawn of the puppet master space alien JHVH-1 often misnamed JEHOVA."BOB" is the TRUTH "SLACK" is the way

-- ! (!@!.!), June 11, 1999.

Enough with the preaching al-d. If I want a sermon I'll go to church.

-- gilda (, June 11, 1999.

St. Thomas Aquinas put it simply: " Truth is the mind conforming to reality." Somewhat similiar to what Paul said but no mention of concensus.

-- Joe O (, June 11, 1999.

The truth is that you are a moron.

-- Mutha Nachu (, June 11, 1999.

Enough, I say!! How about a discussion about "truth" vis-a-vis Y2k? That is, after all, what the editorial was about, and what this forum should be about.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), June 11, 1999.

like BRO. jakes say,y,s a set-up, get ready,get ready,

-- al-d. (, June 11, 1999.

Regular = We have abandoned critical thinking skills and a quest for truth, and instead we have emphasized feelings and emotions.

I enjoyed the article you have posted here. Over the last year I have spent a few hundred hours on the WWW reading about y2k (making a few post). My opinion of other posters in general is not very high so not surprised with the responses to thinking about the truth.

-- Thankful for your input (, June 11, 1999.

Truth is that copious commodity where supply always outstrips demand.

Truth is a journey.

Truth is.

-- Nathan (, June 11, 1999.


Your point is well taken. Certainly the truth about y2k has been damn difficult to come by, since everyone has an agenda, and not every agenda is obvious.

Before setting aside the issue of the sheer difficulty of knowing where any large remediation project stands (on the part of *anybody* involved in it), let me say that if a project is complete, everyone knows where it stands. Projects are not complete, and this is both normal and discouraging.

While this article summarizes by citing both government and big business, each example is a government example. Over time, a clear difference has emerged between government and business -- in effort expended, in honesty of reporting, in perceived (by those involved) urgency of getting it done, in the competence of those doing the remediation, in potential legal ramifications of missing the big deadline (both in performance and reporting), and on and on. A poorly remediated business risks business failure. A poorly remediated government agency risks nothing. Lumping these two together is probably inaccurate and misleading.

As for the examples cited, the DoD rings very true. While we have good evidence that at least some within the military are taking y2k very seriously and being consciencious, of course the reporting procedures are geared to suppress problems, and always have been. You don't win wars by dwelling on your casualties. In the military, if you're instructed to do the impossible, you say "yes sir"! Any other answer and you're in deep shit. And of course it's duly reported up the chain of command that the impossible *will* be done.

As for HCFA, they're probably lying. But we should also recognize that the GAO is an arm of the Republican-controlled legislature, and a political opponent of the Democratic Administration. There are shades of gray here, likely revolving around varying definitions of 'compliant' and 'ready'. When the structural dynamics reward one group for misrepresenting their status, and reward the other for requiring the unlikely, you're sure to have a disconnect. HCFA is most likely in sad shape nonetheless.

The FAA situation has been debunked so many times on this forum that it's a waste of time to dive into it again. I'll agree that the reporting procedures adopted by the FAA have backfired. By creating the false impression (to those who applied the reporting procedures of *others* to the FAA without reading what the FAA clearly said they were reporting) that they were further ahead than they were, the FAA fell victim to the equally false impression that they've since gone backwards or were lying. Without going into redundant detail, suffice it to say that the FAA is still holding to their original target. But if they're not done next month, they'll miss it.

The fact that this article continues to beat this dead horse conveys a clear indication of bias. What can we properly conclude about Dunn's version of the 'truth' if these are the best examples he can find, all of them in the public sector, and he chooses NOT to find a single example (out of many thousands) of businesses which have reached verified compliance and have truthfully said so? Instead, without examples, he lumps them in with the government in his summary.

Without question, many organizations are making false claims of compliance, readiness, progress, etc. Deadlines are being missed almost universally. Yet progress is being made, testing is widespread, and optimism is, while not yet justified, not entirely foolish either.

When Pilate asked "what is truth?" Christ had no answer (the only honest answer he could have given). Dunn thinks he has the answer, but his supporting arguments fall well short of establishing it.

-- Flint (, June 11, 1999.

Truth... shifts daily. And depends on where you look and who's doing the looking.

Who knows? Seems appropriate to just keep searching.

The person you most need to convince is yourself, especially with Y2K issues. Key is taking action on your convictions... or not.

At least take responsibility for your choices.


-- Diane J. Squire (, June 11, 1999.


I thought the master space alien was named VYGR


-- (, June 11, 1999.

"I hope what's true is true for you too." --- Joe McDonald (Country Joe and the Fish.)

-- Hallyx (, June 11, 1999.

Flint said:

"When Pilate asked "what is truth?" Christ had no answer (the only honest answer he could have given)."

Flint, Messiah had already told his disciples what the truth was (John 17:17). He didn't answer Pilate because He knew Pilate would not accept THE answer. He was only following His own advice to not cast pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6).

Too bad most on this forum don't heed that advice more often.

-- Nabi Davidson (, June 11, 1999.

I have thought about this question a number of times in the last year. There are 2 kinds of truth 1) What you believe to be true backed by facts and faith where there are no absolute facts. 2) Absolute truth. The difference between what you believe and reality.

-- Vic (, June 11, 1999.

Nabi -- Agree 100%.

However, do think the post at top draws wrong analogy between Christ and gov/biz: they don't know THE truth about Y2K. This is diff, of course, than question about what they do know and how they are handling that ....

-- BigDog (, June 11, 1999.

Just the truth from that person's point of view, or their reality.

-- gilda (, June 13, 1999.

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