Saturday, January 07, 2006

Truthiness Defines 2005

A group of linguists has declared the word “truthiness” as the 2005 word of the year.

That seems to sum up the year perfectly. What truthiness means is believing that something is “true” regardless of whether or not it’s factual. And, as the always-on-top-of-it Ann Althouse notes it is a word invented by Comedy Central’s pseudo-pundit Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, proving once again that the best comedians can see truthiness better than the rest of us.

Inspired by this new word, I will now offer my selections as the top truthiness beliefs of 2005—those heart-felt beliefs among certain members of our populace who have no need for facts in order to claim something true. These are in no particular order:

A persistent vegetative state is easily recovered from
George W. Bush lied us into war
The filibuster is a constitutional right
Gay marriage will destroy society
Revealing the identity of a CIA agent is no big deal
The Guantanamo Bay prison is like a Nazi camp
Global warming is a myth
There is a war against Christmas
Hugo Chavez is a noble leader worthy of admiration
Mike Brown did a heckuva job

I think we can expect a lot more truthiness in 2006.


Blogger Tim Kanwar said...

How about one more:

Uncovering illegal NSA wiretaps was unpatriotic and harmful to national security.

And here's my early vote for the 2006 word of the year: circumlegally.

The term refers to "the ability to skirt or bypass existing legal requirements by successfully arguing that the behavior or action was appropriate because either a) the law, in the interest of national security, doesn't apply to you, b)the law doesn't mean what the rest of the country thought it meant or c) it is what the law ought to allow anyway."

8:10 AM  
Blogger amba said...

What's always been repellent to me about Arab culture, as manifested in the Palestinian "struggle," is the complete disregard for -- more like nonexistence of -- objective facts. (This is probably more accurately a trait of oral culture, a topic Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye wrote about at fascinating length here.) "Truth" is emotional truth. If you feel it, you believe it, it's true. Propaganda is like grassfire in these cultures: if a statement appeals emotionally, it is immediately taken up as truth (e.g. the attack on the World Trade Center was an Israeli plot and all the Jewish workers were warned in advance to get out).

"Truthiness" trends in that direction, although the cuteness of the word makes it sound a lot less serious than it really is. The talk about conservative postmodernism -- another good example is here -- is related. (Not that conservatives have any monopoly on truthiness, as your bipartisan list shows.) It may be a sign that we are indeed becoming "postliterate," as Camille Paglia has celebrated and others have deplored. Education and literacy are declining, and the imagery of television bypasses the skeptical, verifying intellect and goes straight for the gut. We all think we "know" what we want to believe.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Tom Strong said...

Ha! I hadn't heard of this before. It reminds me of a Philip K. Dick quote:Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Glad to see you're back.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Luc Mthws said...

THIS will be the year of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

see here

12:15 AM  
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