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The most powerful tool for peering into the unknown unknowns and discovering a new previously unknown entity is the human mind that has been given some information that doesn’t fit its expectations. That simple idea has some interesting implications, and the most powerful use of that idea is to set before a mind large amounts of fundamentally accurate information.

I emphasize accurate information for mental input, because of Saint Augustine’s famous statement, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” That concept has been applied with devastating effects to the whole of Western civilization for a thousand years. Mostly it was between the years 400 CE to 1400 CE that this phrase was used to justify ridiculous assumptions being pursued to explore non-existent realities, and the concept is still being used but with other defining words.

The most recent usage of that idea in a prominent place was by Hillary Clinton as the closing words of her announcement for running for President of the United States. She said, “… an America, where if you do your part, you reap the rewards. Where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind. An America where a father can tell his daughter: yes, you can be anything you want to be. Even President of the United States. Thank you all. God bless you. And may God bless America.” At the moment she spoke these words it appeared she was a shoo-in to win the election. The problem with that “faithful” idea is that it is as close to a pure lie as it is possible to get without being a pure lie. A tiny adjustment of the words would have left it an acceptable reality, but this carefully prepared statement, as it was stated, was a falsehood. You can’t be anything you want to be … especially President of the United States.

I quibbled too long on that idea, but the prime directive of the Classic Greek philosophers, and of our modern scientists, is that you must never present false evidence, or tell a lie. As soon as a lie has entered the argument all of the conversation has a lie built into it. It becomes more difficult to find truth when a lie is built into the search. Something might be found, but then it will be necessary to go back and winnow out the falsehoods, but by that time there will be built into the whole thing various forms of self-interest preventing it.

My basic idea here is that to discover new knowables within the universe of unknown unknowns it is necessary to have an abundance of accurate information. The universe may be very large and the unknowns that can be discovered are without doubt vast, but the universe of fantasy is without limit. Truth is unique but untruth is infinite. Therefore, a person on the quest for new truths must be careful to acquire accurate information, and scrupulous about identifying and abandoning falsehoods. It was the adherence to that important idea that gave the Classic Greeks their lasting intellectual power.

Truth is unique but untruth is infinite.