Inquiring Minds


Plato’s Cave July 19, 2020 

News, Fake News, and Opinion: Navigating Truth

During our ‘Open Mic’ discussion last week, Jim Diggs started us on a quest in search for honest facts and truth in a sea of the riptides of bias and fake news. The group decided to continue our quest for truth this week. I recommended a book by Professor Emeritus William Gardner titled “Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research”. (available on Amazon) Dr. Gardner received a Ph.D. in General Experimental Psychology from the University of Alabama; he spent a year studying language at the University of Wisconsin, and occasionally during his teaching career he took courses in philosophy. So, not only do we need to dig out true facts; we also need to understand the different domains that may be used to measure them: Since it is in our nature to search for truth, what is the truth? Gardner notes that some see truth as self-evident, absolute, and universal, whereas for others it is open to changing definition. Neither view helps us to understand it. Gardner describes the four established domains of truth: ARGUMENT, REVELATION, LOGIC, & MEASUREMENT


Our Inquiring Minds group meets to discuss a chosen topic in an informal setting. Subjects include religion, current events, politics, and science, among others. Drop-in visitors are always welcome. Inquiring Minds information is also available at the Plato’s Cave meetup website:

Aphorisms for the Uncommon Reader

On July 15, 2020, my new book, Aphorisms for the Uncommon Reader, was released by Logica Books and is available at Amazon, B&N, Book Depository, and local bookstores. It provides a review of this briefest and broadest form of the literary arts, followed by 400 original, thought-provoking, and humorous insights, for example:

  • The toucan sees nothing unusual in the mirror.
  • We make lifelong friends while we are young and indiscriminate.
  • Capitalism:  n.  An ingenious system for creating work for workers, wealth for the wealthy, and poverty for the poor.
  • You can learn what you have to say only by listening when you speak.
  • Perceptions:  n. pl.  Images from our past distorted to accommodate the objects currently before us.
  • Happiness isn’t something that happens to us. It’s something we do.
  • We usually understand what we heard, even when we don’t understand what was said.
  • Adulthood:  n.  The developmental stage in which we abandon our selves to become our lives.
  • Militia:  n.  An armed mob organized by shirt color–historically black or brown.

SECOND EDITION of Handling Truth!

Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research SECOND EDITION is now available in both paperback and ebook form. The new edition can be identified by “SECOND EDITION” on the cover below the title. The ISBN is unchanged, but the copyright is updated to 2020. Used copies are of course now somewhat out of-date.

The changes were made to update the content AND improve the text—and of course to and correct that one error. I recommend the new edition to all fans of the book, as well as to readers who failed to order the First Edition. Those who read ebooks will be glad to learn that the ebook price dropped from $9.99 to $ 2.99, and moreover the ebook can now be shared on Kindle.

Please recommend Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research to your friends.

Review from Goodreads

Naomi’s Review of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research

September 15, 2015

This was a really quick read. I found the argument that these four categories of truth are fundamentally independent and cannot challenge each other’s domains to be difficult, but also pretty accurate. I read this for a grad school class on transitional justice where we discussed how to understand other people’s point of view based on their “type” of truth (3 Stars).

Book Review

Review of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research

This was a very interesting book. It is instructive to consider that “truth” means different things in different arenas. The author does a great job of articulating what truth may mean in different contexts, and what the context means to those who want to challenge the validity of the truth as seen by another. (John Fredrickson’s 5 star review, July, 2013)

Book Review

SAMJ Editorial about Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research.

By William Melvin Gardner. Pp. 192. $12.95 (paperback), $9.95 (ebook for Kindle and Nook). Logica Books. 2012. ISBN 978-0-9761875-1-6 and 978-0-9761875-2-3, respectively. Information and contact available at:

Do not tell a patient that they have cancer–they cannot handle this and behave inappropriately. This was the gist of the teaching of my mentor, Professor Jannie Louw, when I was a medical student. This book does not deal with such, now outdated, patient-related specifics, but with the four main domains of truth. These concepts are most helpful when we, as medical scientists, find ourselves perplexed by people (and our patients) latching onto other beliefs rather than taking our advice. Gardner’s descriptions of the domains of truth: rhetorica, mystica, logica and empirca, are an easy read and help us to make sense of why and how people differ in their views of the world. (

J P de V van Niekerk

Managing editor, SAMJ


Thomas Horan’s Review Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research (for Amazon)

“Something a little bit astonishing:”
“Self-published, I assume, it’s something of a gift from the gods; straightforward, plainly written, lovely in that way you know you must have articulated these simple things before, you just can’t quite remember doing it. And they are crucial things.”
“He [William Melvin Gardner] has an important argument to convey; he does it well; it’s crucially important. I hope it sells millions and goes to every high school senior, and every person in political and religious and scientific office in the country.” (Amazon: May 2, 2013)


Kyle Connors’ review
of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research by William Melvin Gardner:

“I sense a paradigm shift in my future:”
“Although I’m not 100% sold on what Mr. Gardner has to say in this book it has me thinking. Any book that can get me to question the current way I think about things is certainly worth reading. These 4 domains of Truth are cultural, and I would imagine some cognitive dissonance must be navigated through when re-framing reality into Mr. Gardner’s truths. What’s best about this book is how accessible it is; it can be very hard to digest certain books (especially after a long day at work), but I can understand and retain it all. A delight to read. Highly recommended!” (Amazon: March 20, 2013)

Equal Time for Freethought

William Melvin Gardner (author of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research) was interviewed on Saturday, April 20th, at 3:00 on WBAI Radio in NYC.  The program was “Equal Time from Freethought,” and the interviewer was Xaquri Rzetelny. The 53-minute interview can be replayed from the WBAI archives: