When Stephen Colbert invented the word “truthiness,” he suggested it was something people chose to believe in. In reality, it is not always a willful choice. While dictionaries define facts as things, they are perhaps most accurately thought of as observed patterns in the world. There are private facts we know about the world firsthand, personal facts we think we know, and public facts (i.e., general knowledge) that we believe we know. The seven levels of truthiness range from observation to belief. Ultimately, we must admit that what we know about the world is primarily hearsay.
- Private information is when we observe information ourselves and see it’s repetition happen and then we categorize it.
- Personal convictions is when we interpret information and make judgements about it for ourselves.
- Public information is what gets thrown around in the news and the mass as a whole starts to form an opinion.
“Although the word truthiness evidently has early nineteenth-century roots, its modern usage is the brain-child of the American comedian Stephen Colbert.”