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Truth (Relative or Independent): Humankind’s quest for truth as represented by The Borda Count and inverse odds

The idea of voting as discussed in the lecture on The Borda count can provide a strong basis for explaining Humankind’s quest for truth and the admittedly experimental yet tentative nature of science.

Take the heliocentric model of the solar system and now superseded geocentric model (which partially encapsulates the Ptolemaic model) of the universe for instance, for a long period of time many renowned thinkers, including the likes of Pythagoras, Plato and his student Aristotle, strongly believed in the geocentric model (1). They believed that the earth was at the centre of the universe and that the Sun, Moon, stars and planets orbited at point slightly off centre from the Earth. Despite being an erroneous model, and although the heliocentric model was fully developed in the 3rd century BC, the Ptolemaic model was regarded as truth by numerous scholars including the accomplished mathematician, astronomer and geographer Ptolemy himself. In other words, if the two models were put to a Borda count where P represents preference for the Ptolemaic model and H represents preference for the heliocentric model, hitherto most scientists would have had the following preference:

P > H

The more scientists held on to this idea, the more accepted it became, subsequently diminishing the possibility of the heliocentric model as we know it today.

This situation also meant that many future scientists latched onto the idea assuming, falsely, that since the inverse odds was high, the true probability of the Ptolemaic model must also be high.

This explains why despite having been fully conceived in 3rd century BC, it wasn’t until the 15th century (2) that the heliocentric model began to be reconsidered thanks to Averroes’ criticism of Ptolemy.

Once “Ptolemaic” beliefs had been challenged and once experiments showed a lack of comprehensiveness of the Ptolemaic model, the inverse odds for a Ptolemaic model decreased while the inverse odds for a heliocentric model increased as more experiments proved the postulates. Today, most people latch onto the heliocentric model since its inverse odds are extremely high repeating the cycle and reinforcing H’s dominance over P if a Borda count was to be done.

Humankind still has a long way to go. Crucial to our progression, however, is a truthful unwavering definition of truth because thus far, it seems that humankind’s best definition for truth is somewhat dependent on inverse odds. Can we yet do better?




Works Cited

1.       Universegrowth. Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Aristarchus, Eratosthenes and Ptolemy. 18 May 2011,


2.       Kuhn, Thomas S. The Copernican Revolution Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. Harvard University Press, 2003.



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