The concept of truth deals with a connection with reality. A true statement, or a fact, describes the world how it really is. Truth is what is real. What is measurable, describable, and verifiable. Truth is often defined as that which corresponds with reality. As a proposition that agrees with facts. This may be, but perhaps it does not tell the complete story. What if there was a better and more complete way to describe the concept of truth.
What if the concept of truth could, in fact, be usefully described using concepts from the world of science. Specifically, from the world of physics. True value theory is based on the development and exploration of this possibility. At the very center of this theory is the fundamental notion that our concept of truth truth is very closely related to energy. That when we are talking about truth, we are in fact making a claim about energy efficiency. This can be shown to explain very well how the concept of truth is actually used in the real world. To describe how and why truth works, and more accurately understand how information connects with the world. To understand the concept of truth in a deeper, more meaningful, and more complete way.
The way truth can be connected to energy use can be easily demonstrated using a simple example.
A man is standing on a street corner. There is a store located 1 block north of him in reality, but he doesn't know that.
He asks for directions from a stranger. Consider each of these responses.
Response 1: The store is 1 block East Response 2: The store is 1 block South Response 3: The store is 1 block North Response 4: The store is 2 blocks South
Response 5: I see a red panda.
Out of these five responses, which is true?
Of course, Response 3 is true. It says the store is one block North, which corresponds where the store really is. Response 3 is the statement which corresponds with reality. The sentance agrees with the fact of where the store is. This is our current understanding of truth.
True value theory claims that there is more to the story than this. The underlying reason that response 3 is true, is, in fact, that it is the set of information that will be able to save the man the most energy. That this is the answer that maximizes the man's efficiency in the real world. It allows him to use his energy in the most effective way. This ability the information has to increase the man's efficiency is what makes it truth.
If the man is told "The store is one block East" He would go the wrong way, and have to ask again or search for the store. This makes him less efficient, because he has to spend more energy doing the same thing.
If the man is given the TRUE answer, however, he goes directly to where the store actually is. He wastes as little of his energy as possible. The true information therefore allows him to be as efficient as possible.
The truth of the statement therefore has a direct effect in the real world, beyond the domain of language. It directly effects how efficiently the man can act in the real world. There is a fundamental link between truth and the man's efficiency.
The central claim of True Value Theory is that Truth can be usefully described as a property of information that is able to increase the efficiency of a system.
Why isn't it good enough to just say that the phrase "The store is 1 block north" corresponds with the reality of where the store is? Or Directions 3 is a statement that agrees with the facts?
These definitions both rely on terms like "corresponds" , "agrees" , and even "reality". These terms, if subject to rigorous insight and questioning, do not have exact definitions. Exactly where is the point that information starts corresponding? Exactly where does it stop? Exactly what does reality consist of?
Energy, on the other hand, is rigorously measurable. It is well defined. The difference between adding more or less energy, or making something more or less efficient is a clear one. Even if difficult, it can be measured.
Defining Truth as information with the ability to increase efficiency is therefore more rigorous than defining it in terms of facts, reality, and correspondence.
This way of thinking is not just tied to reality, but connected in a useful and meaningful, and rigorously measurable way. This is the power and the logic behing this paradigm of truth, and why it works so well.
TRUE VS FALSE
Consider the man looking for the store store as a system. The more quickly and easily the man can find the store, the more efficient the system is.
The man isn't just a simple system however. He has eyes. He has ears. He has a brain. Therefore, he can be influenced by information. Because of this, information could potentially have an impact on his efficiency.
According to True Value Theory, truth is the property of information which is able make the man more efficient.
True information will make it measurably EASIER for the man to get to the store.
Truth can be found therefore by comparing the average distance the man has to travel if he knows no information vs if he follows the directions.
If the man has no information, he has to guess where the store is. Randomly choosing a direction and walking, then walking back if he is wrong. On average, if the man has no idea where the store is, he will walk 4 blocks searching for it until he finds it.
This number acts as a kind of benchmark. The man has to walk 4 blocks on average if he doesn't have any information whatsoever.
In order to have the Truth property, the information that the man gets has to make the man more efficient than if he didn't have any information at all.
This diagram shows each set of information, and the average distance the man will have to walk if he follows each set.
As can be clearly seen, the answer "one block North" has the truth property because it guides the man directly to where the store actually is. With this information, he gets to the store in only one block instead of four on average. It therefore increases the man's efficiency significantly over not having any information.
The false answers, like "1 block South", don't just have no effect. These answers actually decrease the man's efficiency.
While true information increases the man's efficiency, false information measurably decreases it.
Why would a wrong answer be less efficient than no answer at all? If the man has no information, there is a one in four chance he will randomly choose the right answer. On the other hand, if the man has wrong directions, he will definitely go the wrong way on his first attempt. On his second attempt he will have a one in three chance of going the right way. On average, therefore, having wrong directions is less efficient for the man than having no directions at all. With a wrong answer, the man spends more time searching than if he knew nothing at all. The false directions therefore do not have the truth property, because they do not have the ability to increase the man's efficiency. They instead cause a decrease in the man's efficiency.
The False property, as the opposite of the Truth property, can be tied to a Decrease in efficiency.
The set of information "I see a red panda" is different. It is information that is completely unrelated to directions, to the store, or to anything else. It cannot be used to guide the man's actions, for better or for worse. Because of that, this information does not directly effect the man's efficiency. Therefore, this information doesn't have the Truth property, or the False property.
Information that doesn't effect efficiency is neither TRUE nor FALSE. It is unrelated.
Categorizing information according to its influence on our efficiency strongly agrees with how we already use the concepts of true and false. This is only a simplified example of the concept, which in its more complete form turns into a complete paradigm for viewing information in terms of its dynamic influence on the efficiency of real systems in the real world.