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If What You’re Really Interested In Is The Truth

If What You’re Really Interested In Is The Truth

By Dennis Loo (3/28/14)

It has become popular nowadays to say that "everyone has their truth." Anyone who asserts that there is such a thing as objective truth is seen from that perspective as being impolite, arrogant, inflexible or dogmatic and to be avoided in polite company. It is true that there are those who assert that they have a monopoly on the truth and that their critics should be silenced. But these sorts are hucksters and reactionaries who are not truly interested in the truth but are instead interested in dominion over others. They are frequently to be found citing chapter and verse from holy texts or from secular versions of such allegedly uncontestable authority. One of the telltale signs of their lack of fidelity to and feigned concern for the truth is precisely their intolerance for dissenting views and their refusal to have an open discussion and debate with those who disagree with them.

There is also a phenomenon that declares that truth is wrapped up in one's "identity." According to identity politics, what is true is specific to, knowable by, and only really understood by those of a subgroup such as one's gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on. Others "wouldn't understand" and have "no right to speak about" the truth known by that group. While people's identities obviously vary due to differences in life experiences, positioning in various social inequalities, and so on, treating identity as the be all and end all interferes with or makes impossible finding common ground and working to end the marginalization of certain groups. The zenith of this outlook's shortcomings I witnessed firsthand while attending a conference at the University of California at Santa Cruz during the 1990s when a well-known African-American scholar actually declared at a plenary session that "we should accept it that we will always be at the margins [of power]." In other words, he was making a virtue out of being marginalized and oppressed and ruling off the table the effort and goal of ending oppression.

The intolerant belligerence of those like Bill O'Reilly and others of the Right finds an unlikely ally philosophically with those of some of the political Left in postmodern and identity politics. Both advocate an exclusivist philosophy. Truth is not something, however, that is anyone's exclusive territory to be jealously guarded against others. That approach reflects an atitutde of treating truth as a commodity to be hoarded rather than as something to be shared.

If what you’re really interested in is the truth, even if the truth means inconvenience, difficulty, embarrassment, and/or sacrifice on your part to acknowledge and act upon what’s true, because truth is what animates you rather than what is personally expedient, then approaching things in a straightforward and fearless manner and taking on all comers and critics is not only going to characterize your attitude, it must characterize you because truth emerges through contention and controversy.

What is true has always had to fight against the odds to be accepted and what is true is something that is a process rather than a finished product. Humanity has grown in its understanding of the universe, both the physical and the social and psychological, through striving for what is scientific and what corresponds to facts and evidence. It has had to do so and will continue to have to do so against the complacency and frequent hostility (including deadly hostility) of at least some (usually most or even all) established authorities throughout history. Those who prize the truth, therefore, have to be courageous and willing to take on the odds in the name of fighting for what is more advanced.

Being sure of one’s self in this particular manner, then, and speaking plainly and fully and always inviting debate and thorough discussion and exploration is not a sign of arrogance, dogmatism, or inflexibility but the opposite of those attitudes.

One does not get to the truth by hiding behind the seal of authorities’ approval or the safety of seeing things “the way everyone else sees it,” but by braving the storms of controversy and insisting on truth and empirical evidence being the ultimate authority.

It is not acceptable to acknowledge that something is true but be unwilling to act upon that truth. It is also not acceptable and should be roundly criticized to refuse to acknowledge what is true because it is personally inconvenient or disadvantages your interests. Those who elevate their own private interests over the interests of the whole are destroying the world. It is time for us to gather together our forces and to win increasingly larger circles of those who recognize this fact to wage the fight that needs to be waged to take the fate of the planet out of the hands of those who are now imperiling the planet.


0 # katgrl15 2014-04-03 19:32
Last night lecture in my SOC 305 class, it was mentioned that Thomas Kuhn feels that when there is data that is collected that contradicts the prevailing paradigm or dominant theory the tendency for that data to be dismissed or overlooked. I think Kuhn makes a valid point that when information that is presented to those that go against the norm will be looked down upon. This relates to the this article because I believe that data that is truthful will be dismissed as well especially if it is not in agreement with the current paradigm which in the United States case tends be functionalism. I think people tend to not tell the truth or believe not telling the truth is acceptable because they fear and worry too much about not contending and following the norm will lead to dismissive attitudes and actions towards their personal life and crucial life events within them.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-04-03 19:33
Continued from previous comment:

Due to this, people are not necessarily interested in the truth and standing up for what is right but instead what will benefit them as individuals and run with what truth that may be. Thomas Kuhn feels that it takes a revolution to change the worldview of all. I agree that it will take a revolution in order all people to see that telling the truth is more beneficial to the world as a whole then people accepting false truths as means to follow protocol from dominant figures in power.
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0 # Sme 2014-04-05 20:48
We deny the truth because we are scared of the responsibility that comes with it. Happiness for many people lays in the conformity one has in what we know and the strong belief that we are right. As individuals we characterized ourselves as special individuals that form part of a culture in which sometimes beliefs and ideas are greater that knowledge. And even when we know the truth it is hard to accepted and believe it; therefore it is even harder to apply this truth to our lives and we choose to ignore it.
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0 # deltoro 2014-04-06 16:19
Soc 302. yes we deny the truth decause we scared, but at the same time we need to know the thuth. but in the other hand we are interdepent, we need others to survive. we live in a society in which we follow norms and many of us are scared to brake them. also, we wan to feel that belong to a group. we dont want to feel outcast. Many of us lose our values in order ot be part of a group.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-04-06 01:22
I think that some people are not exactly interested in the truth. Some people are more likely to accept and utilize information that is parallel to their values and beliefs. We discussed in class that the conventional view of crime is that criminals are making bad choices. What some people refuse to believe is that there are causes in society that cause “good” citizens to commit crime and that there are many factors is society that are criminogenic. They refuse to believe this because it does not match they believe about criminals. These people are not interested in the truth.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-04-06 02:33
I have noticed that we live in a society that either sticks with the 'norm' or strays away from it. Those that are in between either are afraid to speak their mind in fear of judgement or care not to speak. As discussed in class some have an orthodox view on controversial issues as they may feel it is easier to just leave as is instead of speak up for what they believe in.
Personally, i have come to the realization that i used to be one of those individuals because 1) i didn't feel i knew enough to speak up 2) i didn't really care to. Now certain issues that are 'controversial, ' when brought up it is very difficult for me not to have a discussion. As many times it is difficult to not become upset and many ignorant comments, i find it best to try and educate rather than become upset. Even when my interest are at the disadvantage i still find it worth while to speak.
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0 # ch2782 2014-04-06 06:30
Dr. Loo you bring up a great point! So now the true question is: do we really know the truth of a particular matter, if it is said to be true? If we do, how do we handle the truth?
Even during the Enlightement era, sociologist found the truth upon empirical observation, the use of reason, and systematic doubt, but how did they know they have reached the “truth” upon their investigation/s tudy? Is there such a limit of enough information to stop searching for the truth, since they have reached their max (especially back then, when sociologist had limited resources)?
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0 # deltoro 2014-04-06 15:38
Soc 305. We as human being who live in a society in which we follow norms it is very difficult to go against the people on the power. Any truth that cames from the domin group we take it in and we dont dare to question it. For many people is scary to know the real truth. For others it is hard to think or to separe their values in order to find the truth. we dont want to be social solidary, we want people to accept us and our values.
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0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-04-06 15:46
Like we talked about in Sociology 498 Seminar, truth is not necessarily something we are ever able to see (since there are both sides to a story). Our idea of truth is something that is dismissed and over looked because people believe (even if they know otherwise) that what they are being exposed to is the truth. People nowadays don't really seem to be interested in the truth because they are so consumed by entertainment, one sided news, and advertisements. We mentioned the Fairness Act that made it so both sides of a story were revealed by broadcasters, but with it not being used anymore, we are at a place where people don't want to turn that channel to hear the other side to the story. We, as people, just go along with the "truths" we are sold because it's easier than fighting for what is right and demanding the full truth. Those some do stand out to wanting it, many just fall in to the norms like a group.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-04-06 16:38
Society deems happiness /truth in whatever seems acceptable or has been accustomed to accept views of what has been instilled to know right from wrong. Many go on to think that there “truth” is the correct truth but not always go beyond to see that it may not be the actual truth. In Soc 305 lecture mentioned about Thomas Kuhn in how science is a series of revolution. Dr. Loo brought a good example of how you carry those implicit views from your childhood and think it is correct to view in such a way because it may be your caregivers /parent’s views. Reality many choose to live on not knowing the truth as it easier to accept that lifestyle.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-04-06 18:44
(1/2) One will find that this is something that is lacking rather extremely within the realm of even the most "educated" and politically aware individuals. The assertion that truth is objective and reachable is something that definitely should be brought to the table for the sake of truth itself, and for the sake of humanity. As you have mentioned frequently: the truth matters. Without it,and without the dialectical method to reaching truth, public affairs will be handled by a seemingly countless amount of reactionary groups. As you have mentioned as well: the truth matters because public policy matters, it is reliant on the truth and is partially responsible for the end of someones life. As Lenin has proposed that examination of current affairs must come from "the outside", or in other words theory; something that identity politic fans do not take very lightly.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-04-06 18:45
(2/2) They supposedly seek to end oppression, yet the very fabric of their theory actually preserves oppression and marginalization . I must say it took a lot for me to critique a "celebrity" sociologists work at a professional conference, in fact it was terrifying during a certain point while writing my speech; but I must say it needed to be said for the sake of sparking the various aspects that are needed to find truth, contention.
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0 # Catman 2014-04-06 23:06
I think finding out the truth and what we talked about conformity in our SOC 305 class go hand in hand. Like Dr. loo put, it might be inconvenient or embarrassing to admit or find the truth but those who overcome these feelings see the light at the end of the tunnel and it shapes who you are. I think like conformity, most people accept anything they hear because it is easier. When considering conformity, the ability to not go against the norm or other people is simply easier. In most situation, lying about something or not caring to find the truth is easier than having to take the shame of the truth or search through different articles and sources to find the truth. I think my generation, sadly, lies too much. It has reached a point where the government is lying about things and creating problems in the world.
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0 # Yoshi 2014-04-07 03:48
I believe that conformity and finding out the truth in a way go hand in hand. We admit to people only that which would be normal or not out of the ordinary. Like Dr. Loo mentioned in a previous lecture, we find it very hard to go against the norms of society in fear of being looked at differently, we do not want to feel out of place. We may be afraid of the truth, but it is something we must face to find true happiness.
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0 # draen 2014-04-07 04:18
I feel that too many people refuse to accept truth because they are afraid of the way that it may alter their identities. Rather than accepting enlightenment and growing from a changed perspective, too many people just want to stay stuck in their own beliefs. I think that some people feel that if they accept the truth, they might be cast from their social groups, so they probably feel it is safer to just continue on the way they have been.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-07 04:30
Please see my article The Weapon of Criticism Part 2 regarding this point about whether or not people are refusing to accept the truth. In order to know the truth they have to know the truth thoroughly.
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0 # SSBridges 2014-04-07 04:36
Most people in society are to scared to accept what the real truth is. Breaking away from what a majority of the group believes would cause an individual to become alienated and looked down upon for choosing not to be ignorant. no matter what, the truth is the truth. We have no need to fear the truth because at the end of the day, accepting the truth is really accepting who we are as individuals in the world.
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0 # LA305302 2014-04-07 05:23
302. it is difficult to understand what truth means to you depending on your race, age, ethnicity because we are so influenced by social structures. like my reference before in the past article, the truth is that index crime is so glamorized, and white collar crime does not hold up any reputation close to it. the truth within the judicial justice system is one that prefers white upper class americans, and how they are treated better than the minority. truth can be interpreted in many different ways.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-04-07 06:37
As mentioned in lecture, often times people agree with others solely to fit in with the "norm". Its sad that some do this, even when the truth is contradictory to the norms. Society cannot move forward if we cannot learn from each other, and learn from others' struggles. In regards to identity, you bring up a good point. I have seen this in happen, where outsiders' opinions are disregarded because they do not identify with the subgroup. I feel like this isn't productive, and in turn is creating even more isolation and marginalization . By pushing away objective opinions, subgroups may be missing out on truth that they were too attached to see. And even if the outsider's opinion isn't valid, it may be a learning experience for both parties to debate and understand their own truths better.
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0 # Aria 2014-04-07 06:55
I had this debate a while back with two of my closest friends. We all discussed how a lot of people said they were interested in knowing things, but when others say things that oppose them, they refuse to hear it. I always think it is interesting when I talk to people and they say that they are 'open minded', but instead they hold what they believe is right to be the only opinion. This made me think of the theory we discussed on how criminals also have their reasons for doing crime and how it is constructed by society. Since we push them into criminal ways to achieve the American Dream, they are also doing what they believe is right to get to their goal. In this way, their story to gaining the Dream may also be what they think is right while others would consider it a crime.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-04-08 19:56
I agree with the article based on hard facts of truth, that it is true no matter if it is embarrassing or it could hurt one politically. However, what is true can be an opinion to many people, especially in terms of religion. What one group thinks is true religiously is vastly different from what another religious group might think, yet there isn't any hard evidence to determine what is actually true. Therefore, the "right" thing to do varies for many different people. If ones God tells a group to do something that may hurt another group, they would think they are doing the right thing morally however it may cause wars to occur between nations.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-08 21:57
Yes, when it comes to matters such as religion, there is no way among those who are believers, to determine truth since religious belief is based upon faith and leaps of reason as opposed to the use of reason and evidence. That is why religious wars and conflicts are so insidious and responsible for so many deaths and suffering.
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