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Home > Author > Jeremy Northcote
Jeremy Northcote

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Member Since: May, 2007

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  Jeremy Northcote

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The chicken came before the egg. I'll tell you why.

Background Information

A 'chicken' is a zoological classification. Originally there was a proto-chicken-like species (most believe the red jungle fowl). At some point, the fowls sprang forth offspring that had enough mutated features in common that, in terms of their taxonomy, were distinct enough to be referred to as 'chickens'. A number of prominent scholars such as Professor John Brookfield and Professor David Papineau argue that because the fowls produced eggs that spawned the chicken, the eggs should rightly receive priority as being 'first' in the sequence. However, what they fail to take into account is that taxonomists had to see the creature before they could label it a 'chicken'. The creature, not the egg, was first labelled a 'chicken'. Therefore, I would contend that the chicken came first.

How we come to label something as 'truth' to start with is a bit like the chicken and egg conundrum. Does truth exist prior to the designation of something as true? What is the nature of truth? There are those who claim to have answers to the mysteries of life and the universe. But the path to truth is fraught with twists and turns. Truth is a murky business, with one person's wine being another person's poison. The ability to separate the wheat from the chaff is the key to attaining true wisdom. Understanding how society and culture shapes our beliefs - that is, our categories of understanding, including our classifications of what we hold to be 'true' - is the first step in doing this. When those and other influences (such as biological and psychological factors) have been removed from the equation, the truth shall be revealed to us like a chick hatching from the egg, staring us in the face like a welcome friend.


Jeremy Northcote has a Doctor of Philosophy from Murdoch University. He is lecturer at Edith Cowan University and a research fellow at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia.

Additional Information

His new book, The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth, has been recently released by Imprint Academic. Click on 'books' for more details.

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