November 25, 2021

Examining nonsense 5 - Truthfulness.

How can truthfulness be applied to scrutiny? An example.

Examining nonsense 5 - Truthfulness.

This essay is the fifth in a series called "Examining nonsense". It analyses a speech given by David Icke. You may find the other essays here.

Having opened the speech by preparing the listener, followed that up by building the speaker’s authority, and then snuck in some dubious claims, the speech then continues as follows:

The brain is dark but sees light. How is that possible? How can my brain be totally dark and I see this light?
Because that light in its prime form, like everything else, is just an information source. And I am decoding that information source in her into the visual reality of light, because that’s what the information contains. Thus, that’s what it manifests when I decode it.
This is mainstream science.

In this essay we will see how a strong will can harm what Bernard Williams calls truthfulness: a readiness against being fooled. (Williams, 2002)

In the previous essay, the pace principle, I argued for the pace of scrutinising something to necessarily be slow. Someone wanting to avoid scrutiny should then maintain a fast pace. That is the case for this part of the speech.

In just seven sentences the speaker asks about light, gives an account of what it is, and claims to retell mainstream science while doing so. Simply claiming to have retold mainstream science in such a brief account is audacious.

The answer to the first question is really simple. It is not the brain per se that sees light. The eyes do, and the brain then forms a perception.

The question is a rhetorical trick, meant to give the impression of deep insight. However, that impression only works in a fast-paced format like a speech. Once thought about for a minute or two, the questions reveal themselves as ill-formed and shallow.

In the second paragraph it starts off with a non-sequitur. Light may very well be thought of as information. But from that it does not follow that “the brain sees light” despite being “totally dark”.

Considering another form of information reveals this point. Smell can also be thought of as information. However, does it then follow that we can see odours? Of course not. One cannot see stench, even though it is information. So, it is not the understanding of light as information that make it possible to see light. Rather, the eyes make it possible to see light.

Icke also contradicts himself here with what was analysed in the second essay. In that essay he incoherently argued for a sort of nominalism, i.e., that the world is made up of our consciousness or perception. This is an anti-realistic attitude.

Here, however, he argues for realism. He claims that he sees the visual reality of light because that is what the information contains. This is an ok thesis, but we already know this not to be true.

Hallucinations and illusions are characterised by the fact that we perceive something which does not objectively exist. These phenomena trick our senses into forming a perception that is not coherent with external reality. This is enough to disprove the theory of the senses being perfect “decoding devices” of information. The first step to knowledge is acknowledging our capability to be fooled.

The bold claim “This is mainstream science” does not seem to be true, nor truthful. The whole speech is to the detriment of truthfulness. Icke’s retelling of science is bigoted. His motivations seem more political than scientific, educational, or philosophical. He is not interested in unveiling the world, he is interested in shaping it in his image. He is guided by his strong will. And, as I have written before, the will is no good faculty for understanding.


Williams, B. (2002). Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton University Press.


Sign in or become a Philosophy Cubed member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.