Who Loves Truth Most?

Who loves cars most?  Most people like cars, but the folks most vocal in their enthusiasm for cars are car sellers; they pay millions for ads gushing about how much their engineers love designing cars, their factory workers love building them, etc.  The next most vocal are probably car collectors, tinkerers, and racers; they'll bend your ear off about their car hobby.  Also vocal are folks visibly concerned that the poor don't have enough cars. 

But if you want to find the folks who most love cars for their main purpose, getting folks around in their daily lives, you'll have to filter out the sellers, hobbyists, and do-gooders to find ordinary people who just love their cars.  For the most part, car companies love to sell cars to make cash, car hobbyists love to use cars to show off their personal abilities, and do-gooders use cars to show off their compassion.  By comparison, those who just love to drive from point A to B don't shout much.

Truth loving is similar.  Most folks say they prefer truth, but the folks most vocal about loving "truth" are usually selling something.  For preachers, demagogues, and salesmen of all sorts, the wilder their story, the more they go on about how they love truth.  The next most vocal in their enthusiasm for truth are those who, like car hobbyists, use public demonstrations of truth-finding to show off personal abilities.  Academics, gamers, poker players, and amateur intellectuals of all sorts are proud of the fact that their efforts reveal truth, and they make sure you notice their proficiencies. And do-gooders earnestly talk about the importance of everyone understanding the truth of the uninsured, the illiterate, etc.

The people who just want to know things because they need to make important decisions, in contrast, usually say little about their love of truth; they are too busy trying to figure stuff out.  These are the "truth lovers" I most respect in the sense of trusting their efforts to be directly targeted to actually uncovering truth.  Sellers, hobbyists, and do-gooders are instead more likely to pretend to seek truth while actually seeking cash or respect. 

What if you wanted to convince others that you were actually devoted primarily to truth about some topic, and to an unusual degree?  Perhaps the clearest signal would be to show that you are buying truth, not selling it or making it, especially if you use some sort of auction to show you buy truth from the least cost provider.  Instead of offering purported truths for others to believe, or paying ideologues to "discover" already-agreed-on "truths," or inviting others to admire your truth-discerning skills in practice, offer prizes payable to whomever actually uncovers truths on your topic. 

When there are identifiable accomplishments that would clearly indicate truth had been uncovered, you can fund prizes payable to whoever creates such accomplishments.  Or if you want to encourage accurate estimates now on topics where truths will eventually be revealed by other means, you can fund "info prizes," such as by subsidizing prediction markets. 

If these are such clear signals of truth-loving, why do we see so few people sending such signals?  One obvious explanation is that the signal works; it shows us how few big truth fans there really are out there.

Added 13Apr:  Arnold riffs here.  Of course even ordinary people buy cars for reasons other than getting from A to B.  And they can buy newspapers to prepare themselves for clever in-fashion conversations; they needn't want truth.

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