Truth or Dare

In 2005, Stephen Colbert coined the modern use of the word "truthiness." (Watch the video.)

Truthiness (noun) the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.

How important is the truth?
Is my truth the same as yours?

In the late 80's, a friend of mine's father, a high school history teacher, described a pattern he had been noticing — his students were prefacing their opinions with “I feel” more than “I think.”

Have you ever read a headline or an article and thought, "Oh yeah, THAT feels right." SHARE!

How do we know what to trust?

So, what do we know about what we know?

  • We know we learn about the world through how we are raised, our experiences, and where our individual interests and nature draw us. Even with big data and all of modern surveillance, no one ever sees everything. We all see only part of the world. 
  • When we read something that in consistent with everything else we know — our personal experiences, what we've been told — we reinforce what's called our “cognitive bias.”
  • We all work on shorthand, using trusted delegates to tell us what we need to know. We trust those sources, and we trust our gut, identifying what “feels right” — Truthiness. 

These days we hear a lot about “alt-facts” being applied to arguably the most impactful decisions that shape our country and our day-to-day lives, from large to small — climate, science, health, education, racial justice, immigration, individual rights, privacy, security, nutrition, even murder

Religion is blamed for fostering belief over critical thought. 

Facebook and social media are blamed for feeding an insularity that keeps people validating their cognitive biases and seeing an infinite echo of consistent information. 

People on all sides of the political spectrum click and share articles that are funny or shocking that suit their worldview. Children who are generally happy tend to propagate the beliefs and predispositions and familiarities of the world they were raised in. 

In today's busy world, how much time does one have to critically evaluate all our sources and information? Who do you trust? How do you decide who to trust? What can change your mind?

  • Has it always been this way?
  • Did we ever live in more diverse communities that kept us exposed to a wider variety of thought?
  • What has been your personal experience?
  • How do you decide what sources of information to believe?