Truth has become whatever you want it to be

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the guest quoted Brené Brown. I’ve never read her books or listened to her podcast, but I did catch her 2010 breakout TED Talk, The power of vulnerability. Back then, I immediately tagged her as an expert in all things human connection.

Remembering I have her in the category of ‘expert,’ plus the quote I had just heard, and it was plenty good for me to search up one of her podcasts. The one I listened to included both Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard.

Tim Ferriss said something. His comment brought me to another podcast.

I proceeded down a long and torturous podcast rabbit hole.

Days (and so many ridiculous podcast hours) later, I listened to Megyn Kelly and former Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian.

Who cares how I got here, right? THIS is where it all gets good. (Everything before the ‘but’ doesn’t matter.)

Boghossian talks about “lived experience” and how it becomes a reality, regardless of the facts. His example and I won’t do it justice, so you may want to bring up the podcast on your own, was centered around the number of unarmed black men shot by police each year. One woman said the number is 22,700 (unarmed black men shot by police each year). Another woman said it’s 7,000 that are shot.

The fact (checkers) says that number is 13.

As if living in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” doesn’t already make it hard to know what to believe, let’s throw in “lived experience” or “post-truth.”

According to the lived experiences of these two women, they set the number far, FAR outside the actual.

“My opinions are no longer things ripe for judgment and discussion, but rather they are opportunities for the fundamental aspects of myself to be “right” and to be considered “right” by the people around me.” ~ Kate Colombo

Gone are the days when people would say, I think. Now it’s, I feel. This language ultimately positions the speaker to regard his opinions less like ideas he’s informed with facts and more like personal truths. And, wham, there you have it. This form of discourse displaces the importance of truth and replaces it with “what is true for me.”

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Before today I would have said speaking my truth is acceptable and should be considered more honest than any mere statement of facts.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Can we speak our truth sometimes and have it received as truth, but other times default to actual facts for truth? Is that possible? Serious questions. I’m not choosing a side. I mean, our personal experience influences how we decide things, but is that just an illusion?

I guess the truth is, I don’t know what the truth is.

2 Replies to “Truth has become whatever you want it to be”

  1. Facts don’t actually equal truth. Could it be that truth is more of a subjective notion? Facts are provable and concrete, where as truth is interpreted from facts. The whole concept then gets muddied through perception.
    Was there a time when facts and truth were equal? I’m not sure. It’s something I’ll have to sit with and think about. Good food for thought.

    1. I think we both agree that lived experiences are not wholly built on facts, but the question is, is lived experience reality?
      COVID, for example. It’s important to know the facts: who is at risk, what are the symptoms, outcomes, death rate, survival rate, and so on. These facts are reality.
      Now consider a patient’s lived experience: a patients’ thoughts, health situations, feelings and behaviors. Also reality.
      But in the example of the unarmed black men, the lived experience by the two women is representation, but way off from fact. Are they both reality? To the women, yes. To the database, yes. But this time the difference between the two is causing police departments to be defunded … dare I say it … lived experiences, in this case eclipse facts?
      I don’t know why I do this to myself. Deep stuff hurts my head.

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