Saturday, March 19, 2022

Truth matters and trustworthiness matters

  Truth matters, and it's your moral responsibility to find it. Trustworthiness matters, and it's your moral duty to insist on it.

  Never in my lifetime has truth been more important or more elusive.

  Though hard to find, within every mountain of careless claims, unsubstantiated assertions, fallacious reasoning, and outright lies, there are true facts and credible sources. It is your moral duty to find them.

  It’s hard to argue with the observation that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own facts. But there is ample evidence that this is not a standard applied by scores of politically-motivated sources who discredit any information or person that undermines the beliefs they seek to instill or reinforce.

  One group labels virtually every story, however well-researched or corroborated, as false and fake, and large segments of the media continue to catalog and call attention to all statements they say are lies. In this highly charged partisan atmosphere, millions of people seem willing to suspend any responsibility to evaluate the credibility of information that does not support their beliefs. Academics call this confirmation bias, but in many cases, this phenomenon is more serious and sinister – it’s a form of prejudice that precludes fair and prudent decision-making. It results in willful blindness.

  Keep your guard up. Keep your mind open.

  Be humble.

  It is difficult to tell the difference between what we know (based on objectively true facts) and opinions (what we believe to be true). Beware of the self-righteousness trap – thinking the intensity of a belief proves its correctness. In fact, there is no correlation between the passion of our convictions and the likelihood that we are right.

  Some people see the word good; others evil. The goal is to see both.

  View all new information with skepticism (not cynicism), integrity, and objectivity. Base your beliefs on facts rather than interpreting facts based on your beliefs.

  Sometimes people that disagree with you are right at least about some things. Sometimes people that agree with you are wrong. Beware of those who are misinformed, irrational, or malicious. It takes courage and integrity to reject contentions that support your beliefs and adopt some that may require you to change them.

  Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Capital City Free Press on March 8, 2018.

  About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.

  This article was published by the Josephson Institute.

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