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KUCHARUK: facts versus truth

How do we come to terms with those who believe in a truth that differs from ours?

A Fact and a Truth walk into a bar and ask for a drink.

The bartender says to the Fact, “What can I get you?” clearly ignoring the Truth.

The Truth complains to the Manager that the bartender didn’t offer Truth a drink. The Manager responds, “the Bartender didn’t see you because he doesn’t believe in you”.

I have been pondering the difference for quite some time. How can multiple people look at the same situation but have vastly differing opinions on what is fact? What I have learned so far is that the difference between a fact and a truth is that a fact cannot be disputed – it is real, quantified, qualified, and measured as fact – it’s real.

A truth is not the same – it is based on belief and/or an interpretation of a fact, “You believe that something is true”.

It may NOT be true, but you believe it to be true. It could be because of where you were brought up, how your parents raised you, or the external influences during critical time periods during your life. Your belief system is borne out of those influences. Is this the reason why positions vary so wildly as it relates to the pandemic or even global warming?

Are so many folks skeptical of the information they receive because we (society) have conflated fact and truth? It makes my brain hurt. I went down this rabbit hole over the weekend. I broached the question to family and friends. Each of them had a different way of phrasing the response, but all said that in essence that a fact is true, but the truth is a belief or perception.

They believe something to be true. Remember the viral social media post a few years ago which showed a striped dress and asked the question, “What colour do you see?”. Some people saw black and blue, while others saw white and gold.

Myself? I was adamant that it was black and blue and wondered if I was being gaslit when a co-worker saw white and gold. MY truth was that the dress was black and blue and at first I argued with my co-worker about, “How can you see white and gold? It’s clearly black and blue!” Her truth was that I was incorrect – she saw white and gold. If I had found out later that the dress was in fact white and gold, I probably would have questioned the source. I would have found it difficult to believe that I was wrong because I know what I saw and to me, I know what I believed and to me, that was the truth.

As I went down that rabbit hole, I also looked up the definition of “news”. News is defined as a “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events”. So, depending on where you get your news, i.e., traditional media (radio/television/print), via social media sites, or a podcast will undoubtedly lead you in defining what you believe is the truth.

Having said that, how do we come to terms with those who believe in a truth that differs from ours?