Clear and to the Point

3 September, 2010

Word of the day: truthiness

Filed under: language — monado @ 20:01
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From Wikipedia:

In satire, truthiness is a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and “gut feeling” as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.

Colbert elaborated on the critique he intended to convey with the word:[3]

Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don’t mean the argument over who came up with the word…It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It’s certainty. People love the President because he’s certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don’t seem to exist. It’s the fact that he’s certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?…

Truthiness is ‘What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.’ It’s not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There’s not only an emotional quality, but there’s a selfish quality.

Colbert chose the word truthiness just moments before taping the premiere episode of The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005, after deciding that the originally scripted word – “truth” – was not absolutely ridiculous enough. “We’re not talking about truth, we’re talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist”, he explained

Frank Rich referenced truthiness… in The New York Times in 2008, describing the strategy of John McCain’s presidential campaign as being “to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness.”[21] Rich explained that the campaign was based on truthiness because “McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.”[21] Rich also noted, “You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on The View‘. Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face.”[21]

In 2006, Liberal Party of Canada leadership contender Ken Dryden used truthiness as an extensive theme in a speech in the House of Commons. The speech dealt critically with the current government’s Universal Child Care Plan.[39] Dryden defined truthiness as “something that is spoken as if true that one wants others to believe is true, that said often enough with enough voices orchestrated in behind it, might even sound true, but is not true.”

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