What is truth?


I wrote this article for young people, but it is still relevant to us ‘oldies’:

Bottle of fizzy drink

Here is a bottle of fizzy drink. The label says: “SUGAR FREE.”
So “Sugar Free” means no sugar, right? And so it’s NOT a SWEET drink, right?
Wrong!
But the label says “Sugar Free!” What is truth?

It’s TRUE that there is no sugar, but it tastes sugary!
It is very sweet because there’s loads of what they call ‘artificial sweeteners’ in it!

So labels and adverts can be TRUE, and yet still be MISLEADING.

How TRUTHFUL are the stories in newspapers, magazines, TV, etc?

An open newspaper on a table - What is truth?
An open newspaper on a table – What is truth? By Peter Reason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

What is truth? Are they true?
Here is an example of a newspaper story I read:

Children dive for cover under their desks, as RAF plane crashes next to infant School.
The children had to be comforted by their form teacher after this frightening incident.
Parents were furious that RAF planes are allowed to fly so dangerously close to the school …”

Wow, this sounds like a really scary situation!

But this is what really happened (I know because I was close by):

The mum’s and dad’s, picked their children up from school AS NORMAL.
A mother asked her two children what sort of day they’d had, and they said:

Neil got sent home from school for being naughty …
and we saw a plane go over and two white mushrooms came out of it.”

Harrier jump jet hovering in the air.
Harrier jump jet hovering in the air [i].

The mother asked whether anything else had happened and the children said no.
The next day the newspaper REPORTERS were waiting outside the school and they immediately crowded round the parents, saying things like:

“Don’t you think it is TERRIBLE how LOW these RAF planes fly?”
“Isn’t it DANGEROUS having RAF jets flying so CLOSE to the school?”
“Aren’t you SCARED for your children’s SAFETY?”

But the reporters WEREN’T interested in what all the parents had to say.
They only wanted to write down the things that the complaining parents said.

So what we read in newspapers, magazines, or what we see on the TV, will be BASED on some facts, but as we have just seen, the true story can be made more colourful and it ends up being NOT VERY TRUTHFUL.

It is interesting to observe that some parents said:

N0 the plane crashed a LONG way away!”

Newsreporters cameraman
Cameraman [ii]

But the reporters totally ignored those sorts of remarks!
Be aware that the stories you hear are probably exaggerated or other information has been added in.

Internet news sites

Wikipedia has an interesting list of fake news websites.
Here are some examples out of the 79 in their full list!

CBSnews.com.co
Owned by Paul Horner. Mimics the URL, design and logo of CBS News…
Empire News
Many of this website’s fake news hoaxes were widely shared on social media, with stories based on social or political controversies, or were simply appalling to readers. The site says that its content is for ‘entertainment purposes only…’
Global Times
A daily tabloid owned by the Chinese government…
Global Associated News
Described itself as enabling users to produce fake stories using its ‘fake celebrity news engine’…
Natural News Formerly News Target
a website for the sale of various dietary supplements, promotion of alternative medicine, controversial nutrition and health claims, and various conspiracy theories, such as ‘chemtrails’, chemophobic claims (including the purported dangers of fluoride in drinking water, anti-perspirants, laundry detergent, monosodium glutamate, aspartame), and purported health problems caused by allegedly ‘toxic’ ingredients in vaccines, including the now-discredited link to autism…”

‘List of fake news websites’ Wikipedia [iii]

So when we read things, what can we trust?

Well, there is one Book that is TRUE, which won’t mislead you and it is totally truthful, and that is the Bible.
The Bible is known as the Word of Truth.
In this book it tells us:

The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives;
it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.”

2 Timothy 3:16 The Living Bible

References:
[i] Photo credit opens in a new window: Javier Rodríguez from Palma de Mallorca, España licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
[ii] Photo Credit opens in a new window: taras.rynza on Flickr via Compfight cc
[iii] ‘List of fake news websites’ Wikipedia

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