In this era of Fake News and those who seek the truth being labelled “Enemies of the People”, honesty seems almost an endangered species. While those in pursuit of science seek truth as their goal, those who practice more social skills still value the white lie. Finding the truth on the internet is an elusive endeavor.
Truth has been my North Star just as much as mathematics has been to me personally. Math and truth are similar in being very straight forward and exacting. Very early in life I committed to never lie. I might be silent sometimes or perhaps change the subject, but I do not remember telling a lie until I was 23 years old. I was very fierce about this, and still am very resistant to anything that is not the truth. I remember an eighth grader bullying a fellow third grader on the path home from school and that’s when I committed to social justice. It is said “to one’s own self be true and to no one else can thou be false.” This works for me. Lying only makes things confusing and too complicated to follow well. The liar reaches the point of the saying “Oh what I tangled web we weave once we begin to deceive.” Kind of like saying it’s hard to be true to your lies.
Telling the truth, being always truthful, has been very important in building my personal understanding of life. When confronted with two seemingly contradictory facts, I have always looked for ways both can be true. This has sometimes taken some time but sooner or later an explanatory vision will come to me. This tool has been important in building my scientific model of the world and how the world works. Others will quit and be satisfied with confusion and “just let it go” but I keep the thought in the back of my mind until resolution results. In this way I am always trying to learn, and always striving for more perfect understanding.
Adhering to the principle of truth makes the white lie a skill I have refused to develop. Some people, most people, would rather be liked or appreciated, but I value respect and attention more. This springs from my devotion to honesty.
In the Spirit Level, Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger book (2009-2011 Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett) the authors find that trust is the most important variable in why income inequality weakens societies. Trust comes from honesty and truth telling.
“Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404-323 BCE) was a Greek Cynic philosopher best known for holding a lantern (or candle) to the faces of the citizens of Athens claiming he was searching for an honest man.” (Ancient History Encyclopedia). Lying has been found in 24% of resumes and half of all academic articles have false data used. The president has been documented by the Washington Post and the New York Times in over 10,000 lies. What is amazing is that the president’s followers believe he tells the truth. Thanks to the new “Pravda” state TV of Fox News his easily debunked view of the world is substantiated by his sycophants. But the problem of lying is that the truth comes out eventually. But zealots everywhere have trouble recognizing the truth. It is easier to recognize the truth if you live a truthful life. Trump knows branding and marketing but has no interest in sticking to the truth if it damages the marketing. Nazi Joseph Goebbels knew it didn’t matter if the truth got out so long as the propaganda narrative remained preeminent.
In the modern world of the internet, truth is hard to discern, and may even be confusing to the younger generation because it is so elusive. When you talk about truth, they give you blank stares. Late Night TV host Stephen Colbert has even coined the word “truthiness” to convey this ambiguity. Wikipedia states “Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”
In pursuit of the truth by research and engineering, art science and math all play important roles. When the broad picture is a little muddy, various ways of examining the details can help enormously to clarify whatever is the truth. This is often a search for highs, lows, and parameters for an underlying model then testing that model against the actual data to see what scale fits most exactly. If it is basic truth, it should work best under the most extreme circumstances, like World War II or the Great Depression. My economic model has gradually improved over the last hundred years as the annual precision has approached the accuracy of the long-term model. Fine tuning then leads to more unexplained details standing out. Such a process should never be confused or dismissed as cherry-picking, it is just the recognition that even when theory explains most cases, there will always be details that need a new explanation, often a relatively obvious explanation. That is the nature of engineering science. Follow the data closely and with a wide range of perspectives or fields, if you are looking for the truth. Don’t let red herrings based on knowledge you are making obsolete lead you astray from findings that better explain the totality of the circumstances.
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Please cite this work as follows: Reuschlein, Robert. (2019, June 19), “Value of Telling the Truth” Madison, WI, Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Value-of-Telling-the-Truth,2019182057.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute, Nominated Vetted 2016 (2 Web Looks), Given Odds 2017 (3 Web Looks), Strongly Considered 2018 (48 Web Looks, one million words) for Nobel Peace Prize, a favorite in 2019 (double pace of last year 68 in 8.5 months) for Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday October 4th, 2019.