What is Truth?

Philippines
January 10, 2009 7:18am CST
Elbert Hubbard describes an editor as "a person employed on a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and then to see that the chaff gets printed." Marshal McLuhan asserts that his study of the media leads him to conclude that "the medium is the message." My English teacher once told us that the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that "when the optimist sees a glass half-filled with water, he calls it half-full. Show the same glass of water to a pessimist, and he will call it half-empty." Printing the chaff, remoulding the message to suit the medium, the medium turning itself into the very substance of the message, calling the glass half-empty or half-full, thereby influencing if not determining our thoughts, words and deeds - these are indicators of how powerful media have become. If Pontius Pilate were alive today, he would most likely ask of the media "what is truth?" We ordinary citizens, consumers of information, what do we want from media: a glass described as half-empty or half-full, the chaff or the wheat, the medium replacing the message? Are these not forms of untruth? Knowing only an aspect of the truth - is this not also a form of untruth? What do we want of media?
4 people like this
13 responses
@catdla1 (6005)
• United States
10 Jan 09
Unfortunately, in separating the wheat from the chaff and printing the chaff, all too often the wheat is the truth and the chaff is the opinion (of the reporter). Too many people confuse "the medium is the message" and believe that "the message is the truth". The general public is so easily lead by what the media tells us. Too few take the time to read several accounts of any particular story, from different sources, and thinking about all aspects to arrive at our own opinions. Our own natures influence how we interpret a story too. If some one belives that the glass is half empty, and reads that the glass IS half empty, they say to themselves, "I knew it!". If they read that the glass is half full they say to themselves, "that reporter doesn't know what he's talking about!". Personally, I'd like the glass as being reported at 50% capacity. Not likely to happen though...
@catdla1 (6005)
• United States
11 Jan 09
Most people in general don't like to think an issue through to arrive at their own opinions, it's easier to have an opinion given to you. And sensationalism does sell. If the Wall Street Journal and a typical tabloid are both at the check out line at the local grocery store, I would bet money that people would grab the tabloid first. When you think about it, a lot of us haven't changed much since an entire village would show up, picnic baskets in tow, to see a public punishment of some sort. Our attraction to sensationalism illustrates our love/hate relationship with things that gross us out.
@onlydia (2808)
• United States
16 Jan 09
I just want the news and not go to .com for the rest of of story. That is bull. I feel that they have all them real life shows why not two hours of good news. That we all need and can use. Your friend onlydia.
• United States
12 Jan 09
I never really thought about it like that. You have a good point. I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty as long as the information I receive is the truth. I hate it when things get sugar coated.
• India
11 Jan 09
Hello my friend bantilesroger Ji, Real truth does not need any evidence. Everyone has its own views. A truth always remains truth. It may much time to come out in front of everybody, but truth can never be hidden. Truth gives lot of satisfaction to oneself. Half-filled/half-empty are very true as per angles looked at. Why to say, it is attitude by which both are viewing, one is positive thinker, and other is negative thinker. Swami Vivekanand taught to make everything positive sense. he taught not to tell child, "Do not climb the steps", he told to change the vocabulaory by telling if climbed child may fall down. This is difference in positive and negative thinking, which only leads to truth/un-truth. may god bless you and have a great time.
• France
11 Jan 09
I believe that "Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder". As such, we each have a slightly different perspective of an event and thus different version of "the truth". There rarely is one universal "truth" about anything. This even applies to scientific thinking since many people believe as fundamental truth that God is all that matters and science is the faulty philosophy. "Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder" implies that we must assess with a critical eye the facts we hear, whether from the media, colleagues, close friends, MyLotters, or otherwise and try to distill the facts as objectively as possible, understanding all the time that we're only getting one person or entity's view, and were translating and judging their view through our own imperfect set of experiences, values, and prejudices. Even if media sources wanted to divulge the "full truth", and I believe some do want to, they can only give at best a few perspectives of an event. Media messages are also always limited by time, space, and the nature of the medium. So the best approach as a consumer is to understand the nature of media and human interaction, and the faulty concept of "truth" and question everything you hear, then seek your own set of facts or challenges to arrive at your own perspective of the truth.
@Lakota12 (42684)
• United States
10 Jan 09
be real nice to have all thruths but the do have a color of words!
@Pose123 (21667)
• Canada
10 Jan 09
Hi bantilesroger, The problem I see with the media is they tend to be too sensational. They should report the facts instead of the meaning that someone puts on it. When I listen to news, I want to hear what has really happened or is happening, not opinions. The Christian Science Monitor seems to be the best daily newspaper in the US and I'd be hard pressed to choose a good TV News Channel. Blessings.
@kun2349 (23475)
• Singapore
10 Jan 09
It's sort of complicated when i'm reading your post.. lol =D SO, i apologize if i were to misinterpret it.. hehe ^_^ I guess, there are always some truth in those media reports, and it's up to us to analyse, think about what's right and what's wrong.. AS most of us know, media tends to blow up things just to attract attention, to boost their sales volume.. SO whenever a report comes out, we have to think from the perspective of all parties involved, b4 we make a decision of what's truth ^_^ After all, we have minds of our own, and thus, we need not believe what's written.. haha
@Barb42 (4216)
• United States
10 Jan 09
I'd love for the media to tell things like they are, not as they want them to be, or perceive them to be according to their beliefs. As Greta Van Susteren says, you may not like a person or what he does or says and may disagree wholeheartedly, but you don't tell untruths about him to try and win over others. You should be telling things just as they are with that person. If someone asks me what color my hair is, and I say, 'you are looking at it', I would be lying, considering I color my hair. So, when the media makes things look differently than they really are to raise their ratings, as most do, then it is not the truth - it's a lie. A half-truth is no truth at all!
@noniefam (284)
• Indonesia
10 Jan 09
the truth is we have to tell everything that we have n know about something to everybody. cause being a honest person is important. being ur self. n dont lie to everybody
• Malaysia
10 Jan 09
We need mass media communication for 'raw' news and there are lots of media sources for us to make references. Don't look into their business value in that particular news but the news's content that aired or published to us. We are the owner in making decision and making comparison from many news media providers whether the news that we received acceptable as truth or untruth. There is no truth thing in any news, because truth is proof/prove. But if for logical truth in news, I can yes.
@dragon54u (31636)
• United States
10 Jan 09
I would like to see the return of journalism. We have today what Edward R. Murrow called "Yellow Journalism", that attempts to sway public opinion instead of objectively reporting the facts. Moreover, our "journalists" today are more like gossip columnists. Our papers and television are filled with inane chatter about celebrities--this is "news"? Who cares what Brad Pitt has for breakfast?! Mr. Hubbard is right, we are fed a diet of chaff and for only one reason--it's profitable. Profit has replaced truth, is considered more valuable than a person's life, is the end all and be all of journalism. Today's journalists should be ashamed of their profession and editors should quit encouraging sensationalism over truth.
@Arkie69 (2156)
• United States
10 Jan 09
Personally I would like to see the media report the truth and leave it up to us to form an opinion. I have never seen news reporting so slanted as it has been with this election. CNN news was for the Democrats and Fox News was for the Republicans. They did everything in their power to influence our opinions. Accepting anything as truth from the news media is a mistake. If you are going to watch the National News you better do it with an open mind or you will be deceived badly. The news media is no different than any other business. They must do what ever it takes to bring in the most money. It that requires a few lies along the line then so be it. They call it good business practice. I call it a bunch of crap. Art