Can we accept that there is a true reality?

Truth or Fiction is a Dallas Morning News opinion worried about people and their penchant to avoid reality.

A weakness for conspiracy theory goes hand in hand with willingness to credit rumors as fact. Both, he said, are part of a psychological strategy that helps Muslims cope with their own humiliation and lack of economic, technological and educational development relative to the rest of the world. Yet the inability to deal straightforwardly with facts not only makes relations between Muslim nations and the rest of the world unnecessarily difficult, it also perpetuates the knowledge deficit and weakness pervading the Muslim world.

Americans who read stories like this might smile, shake their heads and give thanks that they don’t live amid such gullible people. They can only maintain that pose of superiority if they ignore the destructive role rumor played in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The moral panic surrounding Katrina, stoked in part by media rumor-mongering, had serious, perhaps even lethal, consequences for stranded New Orleanians.

It’s not news that people are prone to believing things that confirm their biases. What is news, I think, is that people are losing the sense that truth is knowable and that one has a moral obligation to seek the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to deal with. Truth is often painful, but truthiness is therapeutic.

We all must learn to be more vigilant about seeking the truth as we become aware of our own biases. But we cannot do that if we don’t believe that objective truth exists and can be known. If we come to believe, consciously or unconsciously, that there is no such thing as Truth, but rather truths – my truth, your truth, their truth – then our minds will be, paradoxically, both closed airtight and so open that our brains fall out.

The recent BBC bias report and its ongoing insistence that it is impartial anyway is a testimony to the fact that many see truth as what they see and no farther. The media’s posturing about balance and impartiality indicate that there is a recognition that the search for what is the actual reality has value but their behavior does not lend credence to their actual holding of that value.

Rod Dreher, the Dallas Morning News editorial columnist who wrote Truth or Fiction, describes what he sees. Trying to describe why it is important and then trying to communicate that to others is much more difficult. The importance of reality is perhaps the most important truth that is given much lip service but very little actual effort.

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