In today’s spotlight I wish to once again take up the issue of truth. It seems today that for more and more people, the idea of truth is one in the midst of a metamorphism. That is, everyone seems to have their own personal truth and very many people today insist on holding on to ideas that have been proven false.
Webster defines truth this way, “The quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality; or a fact or belief that is accepted as true.”
Think about that last definition, a fact or belief that is accepted as true. What does that mean? If twenty people, or 200 people, or 200,000 people hold as true a belief they share, does that make it necessarily true? The answer is an unequivocal NO!
One only need think of some of the crazy views that have been held in the past as true, such as the earth was the center of the universe, or those more modern alleged and shared truths, such as the earth is only 7,000 years old, to see the error here. As such, I suggest that the third definition offered by Webster is not only misleading, it actually corrodes the nature of truth.
Think about how most use the word truth. We see political pundits claiming they have the truth about this and that everyday only to discover they were totally wrong. We find articles in mainstream print claiming this and that, only to find retractions a few days later in small print in the back of the publication somewhere. We hear our friends, work mates, and neighbors use the word to describe others, their opinions, and so forth when we know for ourselves that the information is incorrect. How many times have you heard someone tell you the truth when they were in fact perpetrating a falsehood?
What about the idea that folks hang on to beliefs that have been proven to be false? One only needs to think again about the world of politics to find examples of this. Indeed, research has demonstrated that even when a salacious story is recanted, those who wish to believe the story continue to believe it despite the retraction.
Then there are the so-called experts who share truth with us about all sorts of things. If we listen to them we can trust that the FDA has approved GMOs, but the fact is, this is not always true. Indeed, we interviewed attorney Steven Drucker who won his lawsuit over precisely this issue. Where else do falsehoods masquerade as truths? What are we to believe?
My pretty bride may ask me to tell her the truth about how she looks in a new dress, and I readily admit that I might fudge the truth a little if I think it will make her happy. Most of us may cheat a little this way, does that mean telling the truth is relative?
In 1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, coined the phrase, “The suspension of disbelief.” Has truth migrated to the idea that we must suspend disbelief in order to discover truth? I don’t think so. I do think we must all remain open minded while guarding against the unwitting acceptance of everything we hear, no matter how much it may reinforce our prejudice or bias. “Tell them what they want to hear” seems to rule all together too much information dressed as truth today, and we would be wise to remember that.
If truth is important to you, I suggest you take the pro-truth pledge. You can so here: www.protruthpledge.org. I believe it is incumbent on all of us to play our part in eliminating the confusion and ending the dissemination of falsehoods in our society.
My thoughts, what are yours?