Thursday, December 10, 2009

Truthiness is Taking Over

There are some things the Internet is worthless for -- and finding the truth is one of them.

Truthiness -- the word and concept popularized by Stephen Colbert -- is easy to find, of course. Truthiness defined:
Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word…

It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?…

Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.
This is why things like ClimateGate are critical for the news media to report on, and to report on honestly. Because for people like me, who want to know the truth -- is the Arctic icecap melting, is Antarctica melting, is this happening, or is that happening -- have nowhere to go now. To find climate change scientists saying they've used a "trick" to "hide the decline" leaves me to wonder where the truth can be found.
Unfortunately, what we're getting is more truthiness. offers me truthiness from the side that believes climate change is a hoax. Some of what they say rings true, but the truthiness rings louders. Places like, well, their truth is sounding a lot more like truthiness these days. I want to know what's going on in the world and what I can do to support the long-term livability of our planet, but when it comes to a neophyte like me trying to find truth in the era of truthiness. it comes down to trust. Whom can i trust? I don't trust the deniers. And I'm finding it hard to trust the folks who appear to be cooking the books, using data that suits their purposes, or whatever is going on out there.
See, I'm not a climatologist. At best, I'm a guy who understands a bit of science -- I'm gaining more insight into physics given my place of employment -- but to say I understand enough to filter truth from fiction or truth from truthiness on climate change, I do not. I thought the media was supposed to help. But if all they can do on ClimateGate is tell me it's a no nevermind when by own bullshit meter is going off, I can't trust an appeal to the media to help me out on this. Because I've been a member of the media and know that when it comes to science reporting, most of what's out there in the professional media is parroted from the people offering the information in the first place. They can strive for truth and balance but at best can provide only the truth and balance taht other experts offer them. There are few in the professional media -- or int he blogosphere or on the wider Internet -- who have the necessary education to filter the signal from the noise. So an appeal to the mainstream media is laughable at best.
Then you go to the experts, and your Weird Shit-o-Meter goes off, becausehow much spin are they giving you? How do you sort the truth from the fiction among those to whom climate science is either a religion with dogma not to be questioned or junk science not to be regarded at all? Looking at the source used to help -- climate change science coming from someone connected to the coal industry, for example, you have to wonder about it. It's a shame ClimateGate is now making me wonder about the science that's coming from the other side of the coin.
I don't want truthiness. I want the truth. Can anyone tell me where to find it? I know how Charlie Brown felt when he demanded, "Is there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?" I need a Linus. I need someone to quote me the Bible, chapter and verse.

Come on, folks. Here's your chance. Save me from climate change truthiness. Point me towards the truth.

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