Truthiness and Fake News

How do we determine what is true? What role do emotions play in our acquisition of knowledge?

In this clip from 2005, Stephen Colbert coins his phrase, “truthiness” which to some degree portended the coming of “fake news” and its pervasiveness a decade later.

Facts are believable and “true if they “feel” true. This also lends itself to a discussion of the role of emotion in the acquisition of knowledge.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on the “three kinds of truth”

In this 5 minute clip, from the Joe Rogan podcast, Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his idea of the three different kinds of “truth.” It’s an interesting discussion on the definition of the word but also the implications of how we use words. Short enough to be interesting but not so long as to be tedious. For a tedious conversation on truth, see the previous post on the conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson.

I linked the video at the start of the relevant conversation.

Below is just the audioclip that you can stream just the audio if youtube is blocked and download below that if you just want the mp3 file.

Download Tyson 3 truths edit


We spent two hours debating what it means to say that a proposition is (or seems to be) “true.” This is a not trivial problem in philosophy. But the place at which Peterson and I got stuck was a strange one. He seemed to be claiming that any belief system compatible with our survival must be true, and any that gets us killed must be false.

Psychological Weapons of Mass Persuasion

First, we need to distinguish attempts to manipulate and influence public opinion, from actual voter persuasion. Repeatedly targeting people with misinformation that is designed to appeal to their political biases may well influence public attitudes, cause moral outrage, and drive partisans further apart, especially when we’re given the false impression that everyone else in our social network is espousing the same opinion. But to what extent do these attempts to influence translate into concrete votes?