Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Coal Miners and Postmodern Truth

This horrible situation with the miners in West Virginia provides a crystal clear example of why Postmodernism is utterly false, and in fact, utterly destructive.  Let’s take a look at the belief that 12 of the 13 miners were found alive.

It was reported on all the newscasts last night.  At least twice on CNN people were asked for their source of the news.  Their answer? CNN.  The headlines in the papers today almost all read something like, “12 of 13 Miners Alive.”  It turns out that the sources most of the media used to confirm this belief were other media outlets.

It was clearly a meaningful belief.  The news anchor I saw last night was overjoyed for the family members and friends of the miners he had come to know in the last two days.  There was even talk of kissing the coal-stained faces of the survivors.  We can also guess with certainty that it was a deeply meaningful belief held by the family and friends of the miners.  It is even possible that they made significant decisions after they heard their relatives were alive.

In other words, the belief “12 of 13 miners are alive” was confirmed in a web-of-belief fashion, was held sincerely by an identifiable culture (at least two in this case), and was deeply meaningful to all of them.  The perfect example of a postmodern description of what makes a true belief.

Only one problem-it was false.

Postmodernism, for all its verbose wrangling in the vain attempt to be profound has no real tools for handling reality.  If this were not such a publicly verifiable event, the pomo response would be something like, “It was true for them.”  But that stock response is revealed here to be the horse hokey it is.  “True for them” almost literally makes no sense.  

Truth is gauged by correspondence to reality.  Just like the survival of miners in West Virginia, web-like confirmation, sincerity, and meaningfulness cannot make a belief true.