I despise versions of postmodernism that suggest that there is no such thing as truth, that the truth is up for grabs, relative and subjective. Narrative does not trump all; it does not trump the facts. The facts are immutable.
Filmmaker and writer Errol Morris’s quote comes from a Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, New York Times article about his new book, A Wilderness of Error.
The quote seems appropriate this week after the gathering of the two national political conventions in which, according to fact-checkers and commentators, the truth and respect for the truth were hard to find.
These days, the truth almost seems to be an antiquated idea. Fewer and fewer people seem to believe there is such a thing as “The Truth” no matter what the subject under discussion. They think, instead, that there are multiple truths, each as valid as the others. And their “truth” is true because they say it is, not because it is based on discernable facts.
One political pollster recently came close to saying that neither truth nor facts matter. He said, “Fact-checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and you know what? We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFacts.com, a fact-checking organization that provides information about what’s true and what’s not in political discourse, says that both parties are guilty of stretching the truth to fit their purposes. “It’s a classic strategy: Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good campaign theme,” the Huffington Post this week quotes him as saying. “Both campaigns have certain story lines they’re going to push.”