06 March 2006

Truthiness

Truthiness. Stephen Colbert, you are my hero.

For those of you living under a rock, "truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination." Check out the whole thing here. Oh man. Is this like not the problem with everything? Example from this week: A friend of mine from Fukuoka has called me a couple of times to voice concern about my pending international marriage.

Statement: International marriages have a high likelihood of failure.

Really? Well, gee, I don't know how I could check that out but it SEEMS to be true. I mean, I once knew an interracial couple and they broke up. Maybe I can think of three. Plus, I mean, if you think about it, it's probably very hard, you know, two cultures and two languages. I mean, cultures are so different. And families too! Yeah, yeah, I'm sure that intercultural relationships are more prone to fail.

But see? Suddenly, we aren't talking about anything that's real, just perceptions of things. This happens all the time.

Preson A: Humankind is naturally evil.
Person B: Hm, I don't know if I agree.
Person A: Dude, Hitler? Osama bin what's-his-face? Donny Osmond?
Person B: Hm, that seems right.
Person A: That's because it is right.

Take prayer. It seems that prayer changes things. Sometimes. Sometimes not, but sometimes it does. My evidence? One time I prayed and X happened and I chose to attribute that result to my prayer rather than Y or Z factor. What if Y or Z factor make more sense? Doesn't matter. It feels like my prayer changed it.

But wait, wait, unfortunately our gut or conscious is installed by (gasp) our culture. That's right kids, what you think is right and what you think is wrong is most likely not the work of some deep sense of morality, but rather what you've been told is right and wrong. So if your Western culture has been heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian thought, then, well, you probably have a feeling that there is a God or right and wrong reflect your culture values. Oh, and that one time that missionary talked at your church and told you about how the culture he or she came from reflected a Biblical truth? Well, that dude was probably from a Western culture looking at the non-Western culture with the understanding that all cultures are the same. Maybe it is the same, maybe not. The most important thing is not to get another viewpoint or check it out yourself. No, no. Just feel it. Thus, you can get a truthy truth out of anything.

So the next time you belting away "God of wonders beyond this galaxy/ You are worthy, worthy" think about whether or not you are making a factual statement or a truthy statement.

If you're interested in interracial/ international marriage please see this and to a lesser extent this.
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