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Mar-15-2012 14:06printcomments

Mr. Ego Meets Elusive Truth

Belief can be an illusion on the road to confusion.

Truth next exit

(SALEM) - Forsooth, what is meant by truth? This was the focus of a lively discussion held recently by a group of armchair philosophers here at Salem's Ike Box Coffeehouse. It bears repetition to our general public.

We determined that many people are inclined to blindly use the term "truth" in order to try to authenticate what merely are subjective opinions. It is somewhat like dressing up a so-so person in attractive attire. You get the point being made: the garments do not change the nature of the body.

Our common pitfall is the need to win over the audience. Relying on artificial means becomes part of our toolkit of distraction. As Mark Twain once uttered, "There are lies, real lies, and there are statistics".

Lurking behind the facade to present something as "truth" is Mr. Ego.

We attempt to save face by putting out a facade. We might actually call it the use of PR puffery on a small scale...exaggeration by design.

The group assembled then probed further: How does one define "truth"? If most of elusive truth is artful artifice, what standards exist? It turns out that even if we get a majority of people to agree with us, that really begs the question.

Our group concluded that whatever declared truth was put forth, it had to then be tested and re-tested like a new product for marketing. If after repeated trials and similar outcomes, the so-called truth remained unscathed, then it truly earned the Gold Medal in the Truthteller Olympics.

By the same token, all truth is tentative, simply waiting for another challenger to win that title in the next round. Everything is in a flux. Galileo's radical concept of the sun - not Earth - being the universe's center, shows us how conventional wisdom can itself be eclipsed. The Dark Ages can be found in today's world, to tell you the truth.

Belief can be an illusion on the road to confusion. Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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