Truthiness

Truthiness

Truth: The body of real things, events or facts.  I started off with this word and its definition for many reasons. First is that obviously you wouldn’t have my topic word without it and the second reason is due to its symbiotic nature to it as well. Today the word truth and variations of it true, true statement, I’m telling the truth, etc. all of those have lost their meaning. Today truth is subjective and that is quite alarming. It’s commonplace in today’s day and age to pick your own facts and fabricate your own truth. One needs only turn on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, any broadcast and a vast majority of print and online media to see this unfortunate turn of events in action. I hope to open your eyes and allow you to know the word for what it means and to recognize truthiness when seen or heard.

Comedian and television personality Stephen Colbert first coined the word truthiness on his television show The Colbert Report. It was introduced during the segment The Word as a stunt word to ridicule President Bush and his administration. It quickly saw widespread usage among popular media and surprisingly enough went on to win Merriam-Webster’s word of the year among countless other awards during 2005-2006. In my research though I was startled to find the word existed many years ago unknown to even Stephen Colbert himself, he is quoted as saying “I pulled the word out of my keyster.” Originating in the early nineteenth century it would be the equivalent of the word truthfulness today while truthiness is defined as, “The quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”. So in essence Colbert coined the term for the modern century and its meaning has no correlation with the original word.

Now that you know the origin of the word it’s time to give you some examples of it at work today. Politics is rife with truthiness the Caito Institute in a brief to the Supreme Court discussed the role of truthiness in today’s politics. A quote from the brief states “In modern times “truthiness” is a key part of political discourse. It is difficult to imagine life without it, and our political discourse weakened by Orwellian laws that try to prohibit it. After all where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are communist flag burners who tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use fetal stem cells to create pot smoking lesbian ATF agents? Voters have to decide whether we would be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault weapon wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment.” This rather colorful quote shows an extreme version of truthiness as used to show its usefulness in political discord.

Two more recent example of truthiness have become prominent lately one is the issue and misinformation about climate change, the other is the censoring of textbooks in a Colorado town. I will start off with climate change first. The issue has been gaining momentum over the years el nino started it and every year the scientific community would be more united in its stance that climate change is real. Now over ninety five percent of the scientific community have unanimously come out and said it’s happening we are the cause of it and we need to stop immediately or else the earth as we know it will be destroyed. That is a pretty terrifying notion right? We should act fast without any debate but wait a second because there is a debate.

Tune into Fox news (as Fox is the worst perpetrator of doing this) whenever they have a discussion about the climate. The individuals who argue against climate change are neck deep in truthiness. They ignore the facts in front of them to spin this idea that what as I stated above over ninety percent of the scientific community have said is not true. The broadcast journalists who should steer their guests to the facts instead reward this behavior and if you have a different view they will shout over you while in a futile attempt you try to argue your point. Even the mass protests about the issue are not given coverage on news stations and newspapers. If they happen to be featured you would find them in the back with roughly a paragraph barely detailing who what when and why of the protest. The framing of the issues and ignorance of the facts lead the viewers that watch the program who are too lazy or inept to do any more research go out and tout this misinformation as fact and therefore spread ignorance and unfortunately for humanity those people tend to hang around like minded individuals and a perpetual circle of idiotic thinking is born.

In Colorado last week a small suburb outside of Denver students walked out of class in protest of censoring of school textbooks. The books downplay certain aspects of American history “according to the wording of the proposal, teaching materials should “promote citizenship, patriotism … (and) respect for authority” and not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” A senior at the school is quoted as saying “I understand that they want to take out our very important history of slavery and dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it portrays the U.S. in a negative light,” In an effort to “teach” students about our history they are forgetting an important fact. Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. By altering the perception of the issue of slavery, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki all because they shine a negative light on America is wrong and an affront on historical accuracy. This truthiness if allowed will permeate for generations and further separate fact from fiction more so than it is today.

I endeavored to show you the meaning of truthiness through multiple examples sadly a rising amount of global population (more Americans unfortunately than others) all simply pick what they like and discard the rest. The military also is an offender of this. Truthiness while starting as a joke now describes accurately a troubling aspect of our society. Through this essay I hoped I was able show you the what truthiness represents show you where it came from and show you that the truth while ugly is no excuse to be ignorant of the facts. It is a dangerous trend that is ever present in today’s day and age that should be avoided at all costs. That my friends is the truthiness of it all.

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