Is that even a real word? Yes, it is, says Dictionary.com:

truth·i·ness [troo-thee-nis] (noun):

“the quality of seeming to be true according to one’s intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like: the growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.”

And Wikipedia says:

“Truthiness is a quality characterizing a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”

I came upon “truthiness” this morning in a blog post by Maria Popova at the Brain Pickings blog:

“What emerges is a kind of ‘unified theory of storytelling,’ revealing not only our gift for manufacturing truthiness in the narratives we tell ourselves and others, but also the remarkable capacity of stories — the right kinds of them — to change our shared experience for the better.”

I would hope “truthiness” meant something like having an unquestionable and palpable essence of truth, something that is and feels reliably authentic and true. But no, as long as it feels right, it’s true enough for truthiness. Before looking it up myself, my hopeful definition of “truthiness” felt right to me. It had a truthiness of truth. 

Somehow I missed the entire emergence and proliferation of “truthiness.”  Stephen Colbert has been talking about truthiness since 2005. After reading the real definition of truthiness, I immediately thought of politicians, political analysts and strategists on both sides of the aisle. They all practice truthiness, except their fans and followers don’t know or admit it because they’re blinded by ideology or choose not to question or hear it. What a mess.

But behold! The smartie pants, bless their hearts, and I mean that in a Northern, not Southern sense, are on the case.  Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the MIT Center for Civic Media recently organized Truthiness in Digital Media: “a symposium that seeks to understand and address propaganda and misinformation in the new media ecosystem.” I guess the traditional media is too beyond hope for them. Perhaps we can wrestle this word back from the evil side and restore a righteous meaning to it. Perhaps instead of truthiness we can start demanding truth. Oh, what a dreamer I am.

English word truthiness politics

Photo by ReignMan at en.wikipedia

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