Thursday, January 15, 2004

What IS Truth?

One of the churches in town has this message posted on its reader board: "Truth is not determined by how many people believe it." The message harkened back precisely to an issue I had encountered earlier this week. Surfing the channels one night, we stumbled across a show on the History Channel on Nazis in America. These are the people who pump their fists in the air and scream, "White power! White power!" These are the people who march beneath the waving swastika and spew hateful filth about Jews, blacks and foreigners. These are the people who are absolutely convinced that if they believe the Holocaust never happened, it didn’t.

It struck me that I have encountered this kind of attitude more and more often, lately. Especially among the types that rally around right-wing radio talk shows. If they believe something, it is true…for example that Sadaam Hussein had something to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that’s why we invaded Iraq. It doesn’t matter that Bush himself admitted (albeit under his breath and as far back into the newspaper as it could be pushed) that a link between Sadaam and Al Quaeda was never established. These simple-minded sheep have decided that this is what makes the invasion palatable to them, so it is true.

How do you deal with people like that? What are the magic words to make them see what is real and make judgments based upon facts, instead of making up (or omitting ) facts to fit their judgments? It is a terrible thing to suspect that some people in this country are so clueless when it comes to the issues that they don’t have the tools to use their votes wisely. I worry about where our country will end up if we don’t do something to enlighten the people (as in "government of the people, for the people and by the people") on the really complex issues…the ones they’re ducking by making up their own truth. But can you really enlighten people who have fashioned their own version of the truth and are ready to stick by it, come hell or high water? Come to think of it, hell may very well be coming…and it doesn’t seem to be changing anyone’s mind…


  1. I don't know if it's possible to open the minds of these thick skulled individuals. You are right, they alter or ignore the facts to fit their truth. How can you speak to someone who refuses to hear? Their numbers and their influence is truely terrifying!

  2. Between the people who have created their own reality and would like to impose it on everybody else, and those who prefer to have a reality handed to them, I don't know who to fear the most. I hunger for people who crave facts and the ability to think for themselves.

  3. Critical thinking used to be an integral part of public school education; now zealots waste time & tax $$ trying to get creationism taught as science. The result is that the people's ability to assess the quality of information that we receive from our leaders & media outlets is fast becoming a lost art; thus the level of public discourse devolves into shouting matches among aggressively partisan personalities. Facts, real issues & reasoned debate are too taxing for moribund minds.

  4. I'm not sure that it's just the right-wing talk show hosts that are delusional. When you want to believe something, sometimes you search for reasons to make what you want to believe make sense. I rarely see even tempered debates on anything, by anyone.

  5. I don't think there *is* anything you can say to make people understand that they don't know for *sure* what the truth is. I do agree that an ultimate truth exists regardless of what we all believe. But, how can any of us know that until we are faced with proof? I'm mainly thinking about the truth of God.