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Gauging “truthiness”

“It’s much harder to hold on to lies than to hold on to the truth.”  – Howard Schultz (creator of Extreme Makeover)

Apparently FOX TV is beginning to run a new game show called “Nothing But the Truth,” a show that uses a lie detector and a “series of 21 increasingly personal questions” to judge whether contestants are telling the truth or not.  Queries include things like, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?” and “Do you consider yourself a better person than your mother-in-law?”

Perhaps unwittingly, this voyeuristic show provides an oblique argument that objective moral truth is knowable by human beings and that people are accountable for this knowledge.  There is a way to gauge “truthiness” – that property or characteristic of the individual that indicates their relationship to what they understand to be truth.

The very idea of the polygraph operates on such an assumption, namely, that truth and falsehood are not merely subjective states of an individual, but rather objective, measurable, and empirical states that physiologically constrain the human mind and frame one’s self-perception. 

Of course self-deception is always possible, and people are indeed prone to believe what they want to be true.  Reality, however, is a hard negotiator, and ultimately all human delusions and conceits will confess (homolgeo – “say the same thing”) the truth about what they are.  

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