Why Information Science Is Real Truth
All over the world, people are constantly looking for knowledge. Aware of
the acute truth that it's impossible to learn everything there is to know in
one lifetime, people nonetheless seek to learn as much as they can. The more
you know, the better life will be, some people reason. This may or may not be
true, depending on several factors.
Much of the knowledge people attain (and strive to attain), however, is of
a questionable value. Many people learn information that is not useful at
all; others learn information that is only slightly useful. A great many
people learn things that are applicable only in certain specific
circumstances, but not broadly applicable to the universe.
Many fields of knowledge also deal with information that is of questionable
truth. A great deal of history, for example, is based on evidence that is not
completely reliable. Assumptions are made based on ancient artifacts that
have been discovered or obscure writings which are not entirely understood.
Similarly, much of science is based on assumptions which may be incorrect.
Indeed, many scientific people have had their scientific theories and
calculations shown to be false because of errors in their judgement, or lack
of adequate information. Scientists often pride themselves on being highly
systematic and logical, yet even they have an imperfect understanding of how
the universe works, and so they must make some assumptions that might be
There are many elements of culture which have put forth the idea that,
perhaps, the world that we see before us is actually an illusion; that, in
fact, the planet Earth does not exist as we have often been told it does, but
that we live in a simulated existence with senses that deceive us. This idea
has been put forth many times, notably by the philosopher David Hume (whose
main thrust was that no matter how many times something happens, this does
not prove that it will happen again the next time; therefore, observations
which we have made with our senses are not necessarily proof of anything),
and the science-fiction movie "The Matrix" (which seems to have drawn much
inspiration from Hume). Although there are sayings about believing things
that you see with your own eyes, there are also sayings against it: "Don't
believe everything you see." People grow to trust their senses and believe
that if they see something, it must actually be there. Yet the world is full
of examples of optical illusions, which fool our eyes into seeing things that
are not really there. Similarly, our ears and other sensory organs can be
fooled just as effectively.
It all goes to show that verifiable truth is difficult to find in our
lives. There are many things we believe, and also many things we suspect but
realize that we cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. What, then, can be
counted on to be absolutely true and unassailable?
It seems that the only things which can be counted upon to be true are
ideas. Concepts, not facts. If you see a tree, you may not be able to prove
that the tree is really there. However, you can be certain that you are
*thinking* about a tree. Even if the tree doesn't exist--even if YOU don't
exist, or at least not in the form that you believe yourself to take--you can
still feel, see, and process the idea of the tree in your mind. That idea is
real and lives in your head, regardless of whether the object of that thought
Similarly, you can be certain that you are real. Even if you do not have a
physical body like you see in the mirror, you can be certain that your
conscience somehow is sentient. This is the essense of the famous quote: "I
think, therefore I am." This is the only thing the speaker feels sure of.
So, we can be sure of a concept. We cannot be sure of "reality".
It seems, then, that the most universally true and useful knowledge is the
knowledge that relates to concepts, rather than physicalities.
If you study chemistry, you will learn that all matter on planet Earth is
made of molecules, which in turn are made of atoms, which in turn are made of
particles like protons, neutrons, and electrons. This is certainly
interesting and potentially useful information. However, how can we be sure
this is true all over the universe? Perhaps in other planets or galaxies,
molecules don't exist. Maybe matter there is made of other things. Who's to
say? The information learned in chemistry is very useful in our world, but
may not be universally applicable.
On the other hand, imagine the concept of addition. If you add one plus
one, the result is two. There doesn't seem to be any way to refute this, even
in places which operate under different laws of science than our world. No
matter what kind of objects might exist in the universe, if you take a single
object, it is one thing. If you take one entity and place it with another,
the result is two separate, distinct entities. One plus one is two, and this
concept seems universal. Even in worlds where there is no word for the number
"two", you'd still have two. You just wouldn't call it that. But the concept
of two would remain.
The most true science, then, is the science of information. Science which
concerns itself with concepts, rather than physical systems, cannot be
refuted using any logic we currently know.
Information science is also more utilitarian than ever today, because today
we have machines that can gather, store, process, and impart information:
Computers. Whereas at one time information was left to the processing power
of humans--who are often prone to failure in their work with
information--computers can automate several aspects of work with information.
Ideas can be worked with in ways they never could be worked with before.
Information science, then, is the most assuredly real truth. There is no
ambiguity in the 1s and 0s that constitute the binary signals that computers
work with. In a computer, either something is true, or it is false.
Everything equals a certain specific number. And even if there is some
ambiguity created by enginering faults (such as a bit that hovers between a
low and a high electrical voltage, somewhere halfway between a 0 and a 1),
this is still due to a limitation of the physical world, not the conceptual
Information science seems to encompass mainly computer science and
mathematics. Real math is something that can be done without any equipment
whatsoever. Unlike physics, chemistry, or biology, which require large,
elaborate labs and expensive physical equipment to do anything useful with,
math can be done entirely in a person's head, in the realm of thought. Pure
information science does NOT include fields like the natural sciences, which
are based on observations made in our physical world. It certainly does not
include the arts, where shades of gray abound and true or false is made by
subjective judgement calls. This is not to say that there is necessarily
anything wrong with either the natural sciences or the arts; just that
they're not necessarily the truth.
Of course, you can't make a living on things which are certainly true.
Information science may be sure, but it doesn't seem to impart life. The
aforementioned Hume said that the act of eating is irrational, since we
cannot be sure that eating food will keep us alive, or that not eating food
will cause us to starve to death. Yet people eat anyway. You, too, eat to
keep yourself alive, even though when you eat, you cannot be altogether sure
that you really are eating, or that doing so is saving your life. Besides,
even if you could prove that eating is necessary to live, information would
not save you; you would still need food.
It therefore seems that it is the role of humanity to proceed in some
degree of uncertainty, doing what they can to promote understanding while
recognizing that much of what they know is based on things they cannot
altogether be assured of.
It might also be posited that on some philosophical level that we can't
understand, perhaps even concepts can be false. Take, for example, the
aforementioned concept of two. Is it possible that somewhere, somehow, you
could take one entity, then another entity, and not have two? There's really
no way of proving that you couldn't. Similarly, if you see a statement saying
"x=5", you feel pretty certain that x is equal to 5. However, is it possible
that it might not? Is it possible that x could equal 5, and yet at the same
time not equal 5? I can't think of a way to prove that this scenario is
impossible. Logic seems to suggest it is, but our understanding of logic may
Still, with the knowledge and abilities that we currently have, it seems
that concepts and ideas are still the only things that can be trusted. The
world around us may fool us, but until we have reason to believe otherwise,
we are pretty sure that a concept will remain what it is.