When There is No Truth, Nothing Can be False

Calvin Wirfel '21, Guest Writer

The deterioration of objective truth in our society allowed for the events which unfolded at the capitol building last week. Objective truth depends not upon perspective. It is a true reflection of reality, unaffected by ideology and biases. For example, two plus two will always equal four. It does not matter whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or the neighbor’s dog, perspective does not affect this truth. It is objective. 

While this idea seems easy enough to grasp in the context of primary school math, it is all but lost in our public discourse regarding more pertinent subjects. The loss of objective truth in our society has been hastened by an algorithm-based media landscape, aimed at feeding you information that conforms to your opinions, not information upon which to form your opinions. This creates self-serving echo chambers of information, where everything we believe is true and everything they say is a lie. Truth has become malleable, something that one defines for themself, not something objective in the world. As a society we have lost our understanding of what truth really is. 

Without societal acceptance of objective truth, nothing can be false. What I mean is that, if there is nothing objective to measure different perspectives and opinions against, all perspectives become equal in their validity and falsehoods and cannot be effectively challenged. How else does one explain the circulation and popularization of widespread misinformation on subjects such as vaccines, 5G, and even the shape of the earth. While the belief in this type of falsehood was generally restricted to conspiracy theorists, it is becoming mainstream. Our society has rejected objective truth to such a degree that a defeated president can claim widespread fraud without evidence and thousands will believe him. The loss of objective truth created an environment in which the delusion of a stolen election became viable, and this idea festered and grew, resulting in an angry mob storming the heart of our democracy. Nothing is more ironic nor tragic than a physical attack on our democratic institutions in the name of democracy. This level of delusion was only possible in a society that lost its handle on the nature of truth, and for us to recover we will have to gain it back.