Often, we find the need to try and convince someone that what we are telling them is really, really, really, incontrovertibly, indisputably, irrevocably, eternally, incredibly, astonishingly, true. Depending on how much we've fudged the truth before, or just because we want to make the case crystal clear, we often include emphasis for our statements, such as the following:
- I wouldn't lie to you. Well, how do we know you wouldn't, especially if you've been caught in a fib before.
- That's 100% true. Not 99 3/4% like Ivory Soap, 100% true. Well, depends on how you look at it, as you watch eye witnesses who each saw something different testify in a court of law. "Factual" evidence always has a margin of error, give or take.
- To be truthful, etc. Since I've been untruthful before, now I'm going to tell the truth. Maybe.
- To be honest. Same as (3).
- To be perfectly honest. At least from your point of view?
- You can take it to the bank. Right. If you can get there fast enough.
- Without a doubt. Are you kidding? The mere mention of the word "doubt" signals room for prevarication and dissembling.
- You've gotta believe me. I've lied forever, but in this case, honest to goodness, I'm actually telling the truth and you have to believe me. For sure.
- You may find this hard to believe, but however and etc. Especially if you haven't ever believed in cold fusion before.
- 99% of people surveyed believe that XYZ deodorant stops stench better than LMNOP deodorant. At least 99% of the deodorant workers afraid the plant is going to get closed down.
- Photos of hamburgers, sandwiches, tacos, etc. in TV ads. Big, thick, juicy, filled with stuff. Go buy one and see slim little pancake size sandwiches, a smattering of ground beef, etc., etc., etc.
- I know for a fact. Oh do you? Really? Do you even know where to look up a fact, or did you just hear something on TV (won't mention where) or from some dissembling politician who wouldn't know a fact staring him in the face.
- We guarantee this 100% for life. For who's life? For what life?
There are many more examples of statements and images we see each day that purport to be the truth, the "real thing", the true facts, stuff we can believe in and have confidence in. However, no fact is 100% true, many points of view exist on interpreting the most elementary and seemingly obvious "facts", and some people wouldn't recognize the truth if staring them in the face. Thus, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you know it's true?
- Who said it?
- What is in it for them if you believe whatever they say?
- What alternative points of view are there?
- What information is being left out here?
The only safe thing to do is to take "facts" and "truth" with a grain of salt and some healthy skepticism. Just because a medical doctor, a news channel, someone from Harvard University, the Journal of the American Medical Association, your favorite political candidate, or other "learned" authorities said it, doesn't mean that the information is "true." We don't want to turn into cynical skeptics, totally, but we would be a lot better off if we would tune up our radars and sort out the wheat from the chaff better than we may have done in the past. Reliable Knowledge, the title of one of my all time favorite college courses, is a treasure. But it's often hard to come by and hard to convince anyone else that we have discovered Reliable Knowledge.