Truth works in the same way as power, because it imposes its own diktats, even more ruthless than those of the most powerful dictators.
Hence, scientific laws, indisputable because they are based on repeated experimental observations, such as the earth’s rotundity, the force of gravity, or the relation between energy, mass and the speed of light. These laws, even if they will be overtaken by more general laws, function as constraints: no one can contradict or disobey them.
This is also the case for statistics, indisputable results of measures and observations that provide us every day, in much larger quantities, with incontrovertible data on the state of our world.
This pattern is also true for doctrines, whether ideological or religious, which, even if they obey another criterion of what is true, that of revelation, also function as powers.
For some people, these four truths (scientific, statistical, ideological and religious) can only come together without contradicting one another. For other people, they can only oppose each other. Still, others think that it is the very notion of truth which is intolerable, as is all authority.
In particular, in the West today, where all powers are seen in a bad light, many people driven now by the taste for freedom are going so far as to refuse the constraint of what is real; and truths, scientific and statistical, are now considered as powers and contested by violent means, in the name of the very refusal of all constraints.
It is, therefore, easy to understand why in the United States and elsewhere, millions of people are now against the facts and the laws resulting from them, even those that are the least challenged. In particular, the countless lies of Donald Trump did not prevent him from being elected. On the contrary, a lot of people saw in this a clear demonstration of his so-called revolt against the elites. This movement, now called « post-truth » in the United States, is not new. It is not the product of social networks, which are only ways to unveil the good, the bad and the ugly of what men want to produce and exchange; it is only the most recent manifestation, in each of us, of the attitude of all past and present dictators, for whom words mean what they-masters for the time being-decide they mean, and who have always tortured those who dared to speak truths which they did not want to hear or suggest.
This denial of truth, imposed by a dictator or willed by a people, always ends in a disaster. For truth always ends up imposing its laws. Meanwhile, this denial has caused a lot of suffering in a lot of lives. And the longer truth takes in coming, the bigger the disaster and the more extensive the damage. Thus, for example, the more the new US president will delay in recognizing the decisive influence of human activity on climate change, the more the world will suffer the consequences of his lies.
Thus, despite reverses and disappointments, we must fight relentlessly to ensure the recognition of the universality of the scientific method, which gave the world most of the means at its disposal today. We must keep correcting any errors and lies, acknowledging and accepting the facts as they are, and not as we would like them to be.
True freedom implies recognizing the constraints imposed by what is real, and to use those constraints to make progress.