Archive for February 18th, 2012

Leonard Pitts on “truthiness”

February 18, 2012

Almost sent one of my CoPhi classes to hear nationally-syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts the other day, at the first Seigenthaler lecture of the season on our campus. He talked about “Owning What You Know.”

But I didn’t, and we had a good class discussion on Nietzsche, Darwin, & Mill (et al). But I wish we coulda done both. Pitts delivered a timely reminder that “truthiness” (Stephen Colbert’s term for the dishonesty and disinterest in truth– what Harry Frankfurt calls “Bullshit“– that has taken over so much of our public discourse and philosophy) is simply unacceptable. Ahd yet it is one of the most “salient” features of our culture and our time. Pitts:

The issue is not simply that we do not have the facts, it is that we do not want the facts. It is that we refuse to engage them. It is that we actively reject anything that does not comport with what we have already chosen to believe… trying to turn lies into truth by sheer repetition, of hammering lies like nails… echoed and magnified by a network of bloggers, and radio talk show hosts and TV pundits… brazen falsehoods that fly in the face of science, and history, and facts, and decency.

It threatens grave and profound damage to the intellectual life of the nation, to our ability to simply be thinking and responsible members of the American electorate.

Where to, humanity?” Wherever we’re going as a species, it’ll be a bad trip if we’re not even trying to tell the truth about it.