Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Trouble with Truth

When I first worked in a library I volunteered and was allowed to shelve books based on a test of the Dewey decimal system, or basically my knowledge of math and decimal points. One didn't really have to know the Dewey system, just which number followed which. Soon, the guy in Reference, Barry Benson, decided he could use me in the reference section. This began my long association with Reference work. When I was invited to become a paid employee, the only question I was asked was whether I had a reliable way to work. I said "Yes." and I was hired. I became a "Reference Page" and learned all about the workings of the reference department.

At various times throughout my career I would be stationed in reference. Even when I was in Circulation I would be used to relieve people in Reference for breaks and lunch hours. As time went on, I got better and better at answering reference questions. Unfortunately, I began to mistrust the answers. It wasn't that I was giving answers any different than others. I would always leave the tough questions for librarians who had training. Yet, I was often less happy with their answer than the one I had briefly researched before deciding the question should be referred upwards.It is surprising how a overly perfectionist nature like mine is not suited to reference work.

Later in my career I was an actual Reference Librarian 2. At this time I had even more reason to ask the question of what truth there was in truth. I will tell that story someday, when I have the stomach for it, but for now just know that I had severe misgivings.

Religion has been in my life since I was young. At many times in my life I have had reason to also doubt this way of thinking. But certain experiences compel me to believe in my God. The recent news article that I posted on another blog about vitamins being unhealthy is typical of the struggle of limited human beings to discover what is true. It doesn't really matter if you blame this new truth on scientists who disagree with each other or the media outlets (including book publishers) which print things for money and audience.

In the end no one can be trusted for precious truth. And there is only one way I see out of this dilemma for myself personally. I must find some overriding truth that is beyond science, beyond what I learned as a child when I fully believed in the concept of truth, and beyond even what mistakes I may be making in my belief structure now.

From there, the answer is easy and obvious. Refer it to a higher authority.