In life, I have found that one of the most important challenges that faces an individual is how to discern truth. An individual's future behavior is guided by the belief structure that forms as he or she attempts to find the answers to key questions or is exposed to an environment where truth is easily observed and experienced. Because an individual's interests are generally best served by a thorough understanding of the truth, it is important that the truth be discerned accurately. The method of truth discovery is, therefore, key to an individual's success. So which method of discovering truth is best?

There are really only a few ways of determining truth, and some are obviously better than others. First, we can choose to believe something simply because it suits us to do so. For example, an individual may believe that candy is a healthy food because it tastes good. Believing otherwise may require the individual to stop eating candy. Second, we can choose to believe something because the society in which we live teaches us that we should believe it. Myths, folklore, and rumors, for example, are taught by society as accepted facts that should be believed without question. Questioning the truthfulness of such information may risk ostracism. Next, we can choose to believe something when it is presented to us by a teacher, clergyman, politician, or other trusted individual. However, just because such a person is trusted does not make them trustworthy. The contradictions among religious teachings have been the source of countless wars. Finally, an individual can base beliefs on conclusions reached by an unbiased investigation using proven research methodologies. That is, to form beliefs based on facts that hold up to repeated testing over time.

The main problem with the first three of these methods is that they rely exclusively on the infallibility of humans and for the information presented to never be questioned. The fourth method, although still within the influence of human error, increases the probability that false truths will be exposed, especially when information is repeatedly tested. This method, therefore, seems the only logical approach to the discovery of truth.

1. I show my students the wisdom of using proven research methodologies in their search for the truth.

Next, it must be acknowledged that one cannot answer every question that comes to mind. Therefore, at some point we must come to trust information given by someone else. But, who's explanation of the truth do we believe? Regarding trustworthiness as a fact that must be proven, we can only turn to research to address the question. Who can be trusted to tell us the truth? Answers to such a question comes only by an initial measure of distrust, which leads to the conducting of an investigation into the reliability of the source. Continual findings of truthfulness should then lead to a measure of trust in the person, and therefore, the information they present.

2. I instruct the students in how to determine the relative trustworthiness of a source of information, prior to using that information as a basis for decision making.

We must also acknowledge, both as individuals and as a society, that the questions we ask are closely tied to the goals that we strive to attain. But, what are these goals? Who sets them? Do we as individuals determine our own purpose? Does society? Or, is there some higher authority that has a plan for both society in general and for each individual? If a higher power exists that has a plan for each individual, then logic dictates that such a power would naturally equip each individual uniquely to address his or her purpose. Similarly, if society were to determine our individual purpose, then we could also expect society to do the same. If we, as individuals, were to determine our own purpose, we should logically play to our strengths and capabilities and away from our weaknesses. Regardless of which of the three we choose to believe, this conclusion is the same.

3. I help my students realize their full potential, unlock hidden talents, and identify the weaknesses that must be strengthened in order to achieve success.

However, the life changing nature of some questions, especially those of purpose and destiny, are so important and personal that they should never be left to others to answer. The question then becomes one of determining which questions are the most important and which ones are not. Those that are not as important can be answered by others of proven trustworthiness, while we must rely on proven research methodologies to answer those that the individual alone must answer.

4. I help my students identify the roots of issues, rank the relative importance of questions that must be answered, and determine the best order in which to answer them so that discovered truths build upon themselves to logical conclusions.

It is my continuing aim as a teacher, whether in the classroom or otherwise, to help students develop so that they can identify and address the most pressing issues about themselves and society in general. To measure my own success in this, I look not to see if I have successfully delivered answers to questions in a student's mind, rather, I look to see if I have helped change a student's mind to be better able to answer their own questions.

5. If you would like to read about my search for the most important issues in life and the truths I have come to know, CLICK HERE.