Are You Really Certain of Your Opinion? Probability, Certainty, and Truth

Matthew Oldridge
5 min readJan 17, 2020
Source: CC 3.0.

A Sense of Certainty

Many people claim to be holders of the “truth”. Many claim their words as “truth”, and they speak with certainty, as if there is no possibility whatsoever that their words are not true.

John K. Samson, of the Winnipeg band Weakerthans, sang of “a certain sense of certainty”, and it seems everyone has this certain sense these days.

These days, everyone has an opinion. These days, everyone has a strong opinion: about what is real, what is Fake News, what is the nature of truth itself. WB Yeats wrote a century ago “the centre can’t hold”. Indeed, it can’t. The comforting certainty of metanarratives has fallen away. For some, these metanarratives were never comforting in the first place, but rather cold, hard, brutal and murderous oppression. Postmodernity stepped in and offered relief from metanarratives, which often serve mostly those in power. As the postmodern world progressed, historians may one day say, people became less comfortable with shared truths, and more certain of their own truths.

If postmodernity was about “post-Truth”, I would argue we are now in the “post-post-Truth” era. Whereas Truth was to a certain extent replaced with individual truth, we are now in an era where anything can be true, but at the same time nothing appears to be true, and with social media and abundant platforms for opinions, everything seems to be true, at all times.

Yes, the post-post-Truth era is exhausting. Politicians share doctored photos. The news is all “fake”, depending on whether key politicians need it to be fake or true. All is surface, and all is artifice.

Nothing is true, and everything is true.

The nature of truth is constantly being grappled with. “I’ll show you my truth, if you show me yours”, could be a motto for this day and age, but then, upon being shown your truth, I just promptly ignore it. That’s also the nature of the age.

I am adamant that we have passed beyond postmodernity, which concerned itself with the nature of truth itself, and helped to fracture some of the myths and metanarratives that held sway over us in the past. Signifier has become detached from that which it…

Matthew Oldridge

Writing about creativity, books, productivity, education, particularly mathematics, music, and whatever else “catches my mind”. ~Thinking about things~