The World of “Truthiness”

The Colbert Report_The Word – Truthiness

Analysis: In 2005 Stephen Colbert coined a term that created a life of its own in the American mindset: “truthiness”. “Truthiness”, though not found in a Webster Dictionary, is defined along the lines of “not thinking with your head but feeling with your heart”.

Despite its humorous entertainment, there is an underlying claim Colbert is making. Truthiness is the power of emotion, of intuition to guide us with our reasoning. Books shouldn’t be trusted he says. It is “all fact, no heart”. Yet, with this “truthiness”, people bend the true reality in order make it believable to them.

Colbert’s main tool to make this claim is simply satire. He exaggerates how the “wordinistas over at Websters” will argue truthiness is not a word; how the battle between the word police and everyone else is “exactly what is pulling our country apart” when the people clearly know that is not the case. He also pokes fun at former President George W. Bush and his terrible nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. Bush defended himself in a press conference saying “I know her heart”. Bush, like many humans, don’t know how something will result and therefore follow their gut when deciding on how to proceed with a situation or problem.

Reflection: As I mentioned earlier, people bend the true “truth” to make it more believable to them. The people choose certain aspects of the truth they like and just call it that: the truth. These “truthys” or mini truths are not true because it is not the whole truth. Colbert gives the example of the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal was finished in 1914 but Colbert argues that it is his right to say it was finished in 1945 and the elitist reference books, the “Britannica’s” so to speak, can’t do anything about it. These “truthys” you could say are what spark debates in different topics such as liberal ideals vs conservative ideals; Keynesian economics vs supply side economics; pro-choice vs pro-life to name a few. Are they perspectives of a situation, it could be. But how is one to make a mature opinion when the whole truth is butchered into “truthys” to fit your needs?

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