SPRING 2020 CATALINA STUDENT RETREAT
March 13- 15 on Catalina Island
[Please note: this is the first weekend of spring break. Also, all expenses will be covered by the Harman Academy]
TRUTH BE TOLD
“There is a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.”
- Maya Angelou
“Every soul, the philosopher says, is involuntarily deprived of truth.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order—and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”
- Douglas Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas
Throughout our lives, we face day-to-day decisions that are influenced by countless assumptions, all stemming from our individual conceptions of what is true. Collectively, we often rely on the robustness of institutions like the stock market and academia to guide our decision-making and provide authority. The past decade’s defining moments occurred when we realized how, despite ever-increasing access to information, personal and collective truths are very fragmented.
The invention of written language, the Gutenberg press, the radio, television, and today's internet landscape have all changed our relationship to truth. With each advancement, our trust in what is real has been tested. Today, deepfakes and simulated environments challenge our reliance on perception. Empirical science, a quagmire of quarks and breached bioethics, breaks its own rules. In politics, such instability gets personal, where everyone but “we” is post-truth.
Systematic misinformation campaigns have demonstrated the exploitability of our natural tendency to only seek out information that corroborates what we already believe. Stuck between the need to write our personal truths and the desire to belong with others, we currently face a crisis of truth anxiety.
This year’s retreat explores the evolving role of truth in our individual and collective dimensions. How have our perceptions of self and truth been influenced by malleable structures like religion, politics, and culture? How do we engage with constructed truths through storytelling, virtual reality, and conspiracy theories? To grapple with the enormity of this critical moment, we are going to need many approaches to thinking and truth-seeking. Over the course of this retreat, we will examine how each of us can approach the conception and de-conception of truth within our individual academic pursuits, in our personal lives, and in our societies.
due date extended: Sunday, February 23
email your application as a pdf to Karin Huebner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Full Name: Student ID:
Major(s): Expected Graduation:
ESSAY QUESTIONS 
1. You are an investigative journalist that has just recently discovered the existence of aliens. How do you convince the masses of your findings? [250 word limit]
2. Lying. Do you do it? [150 word limit]
3. How do your experiences and interests relate to the theme of this year’s retreat? [200 word limit]
4. Choose one. [200 word limit]
a. What is true to you that might not be to someone else?
b. Have you ever felt shaken or suddenly uncertain in a deeply-held belief?