Opinions vs. Truth

As today is April 20th, we’re almost three full weeks into the annual observance of National Poetry Month. I always find it interesting to scroll through one website which chronicles various notable events On This Day. No mention on that website of National Poetry Month (no results found), but the site provides an interesting mix of history, film and tv, music and sport going back a long way.

When I view sites like On This Day, I’m usually curious about why certain pieces of information are included. For instance, the website today refers to a particular song release or a celebrity who broke her arm when thrown from a horse, or a specific brutal act committed by a mass murderer. Who decides which “events” are important enough to merit inclusion?

In the last ten days, there’s been an elitist kerfuffle involving NPR. Senior business editor Uri Berliner had the temerity to release an opinion piece on The Free Press website in which he states NPR has lost its way by “telling listeners how to think.” He’d been with NPR for 25 years … but has now resigned … for telling the truth.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Perhaps not surprisingly, NPR’s newly-minted CEO Katherine Maher has a curious understanding of Truth, which (in my opinion) provides some insight into why Berliner’s Free Press opinion didn’t receive a warmer welcome within the NPR ranks.

In a May 2022 TED Talk (titled What Wikipedia teaches us about balancing truth and beliefs), Maher states “… we acknowledge there are many different truths … truth exists for you and probably for the person sitting next to you but this may not be the same truth ….” In other words, we determine our own truths because absolute truth doesn’t exist, just your truth which may be vastly different from my truth. She proposes accepting a concept called minimum viable truth.

Rabbit trails – don’t we love them? Of course I needed to find a definition of minimum viable truth (MVT), which as it turns out is not readily available. Stubbornly, I kept searching and eventually found the term labelled as a doctrine and juxtaposed with another term, the Horrible Truth. The latter term is (I think) more easily understood on its face. I’ll leave it to the reader to decode an explanation of minimum viable truth. Suffice to say, minimum viable means it’s NOT truth, just a long-distance, fraudulent neighbor.

Forget about TRUTH. Homogeneity of opinion has become a high and holy value in our culture. Yes, it may mean we must identify “… a middle ground even if that middle ground contains significant untruths or omissions …”  but find it, we must!

Though MVT is not mentioned in the sonnet below, the standardization of opinions is a by-product of this kind of thinking. If you’re not concerned, maybe you should be. Truth is the most costly casualty of our current culture.

Opinionation, a sonnet

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