There is no truth, at least no universal truth.
Truth is not a fact. Truth is not an absolute. It is not even clearly defined with a single meaning. Dictionary.com has eleven definitions of the word “truth.” These include “the true or actual state of a matter,” “an obvious or accepted fact” and “ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience.”
These are similar but not identical meanings. So, apparently there is not even a single “true” definition of truth.
Despite this, I often hear people argue about the truth. Most argue that something is true as if it means it is a single, known, understood and verifiable fact. This is fine except that often this is not what they are calling a truth. They are arguing over strong opinions that they have fooled themselves about, at least to some extent.
For instance, what is the best college football team in the country? Even if a team does not win the national championship game, you can listen to talk radio or read comments online where intense fans declare their team was really the best team in the country. They argue this with selected facts and conclude this makes the truth clear for all that will pay attention. If you don’t follow their selected, filtered facts and limited line of thinking, they may even accuse you of some really awful things.
The problem is that their argument, like most arguments, is not the complete picture. It is a few carefully chosen facts mixed with personal opinions and bias. And we all have those biases, no matter how much we deny them.
Most of us make decisions based on our emotions and then support those decisions with a few carefully selected supporting facts. Other facts that are contrary to our decision are filtered out and ignored, dismissed or discounted. This process “feels” honest but only because we are all very good at fooling ourselves.
We all know that to be credible over time, we have to work to be honest with ourself and others. This includes acknowledging that no matter how strongly you feel, your view of the truth is not necessarily everyone else’s.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.
© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111