The Difference Between “Truth” and “Fact” Is That “Truth” Is False.

People argue for a cause, for a decision in their government, or for a particular social act or construction to become more accepted by their communities and society as a whole. As humans, we’re superior for our intelligence in relation to other animals. We have sense, and can judge and calculate a proper reaction to what we see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. This is something all living organisms are capable of, and the tasks they perform on a regular basis are very similar to our own.

One separating factor we humans grasp that these other animals have little of, is our ability to imagine and create. Our imagination is mystical and wonderful. It presents the youth of our world with fun and excitement at possibilities that are far beyond comprehension, and while this imagination seems to lessen as we mature, it doesn’t disappear. People still have dreams, goals, ambitions, things they hope to achieve in life, things they hope to prove to others. We even have beliefs that defy all logic and evidence, many of which actually alter how we live our lives. This happens, because humans have developed something beyond other animals: We’ve developed “truth.”

What is truth really? Many people would say that “truth” is “what’s really there” or “what exists in reality.” Many mistakenly believe that “truth” is “fact.” Let’s discuss my interpretation, and see where this fits with you.

Why do you interpret something as truth in the first place? What about a particular idea or event makes any of your conscious believe in something as real? In the film world, we’re able to call a movie “non-fiction” as long as it has enough historical evidence and context to be labeled as much. Nothing can be made up, fabricated, or stretched too far. If we shoot footage of a tribe having a ceremony, are we witnessing a real ceremony, or are we seeing a slightly altered version of it because we’re there? Anthropologists have been dealing with similar problems since the beginning of the science. By inserting themselves into a culture, they change a small bit of it. – Is it still really that culture? How do we know?

All of these ideas that allow us to judge a film as non-fiction are seamlessly applied to real life as well, and this is why we are always lying to ourselves. Because, by inserting ourselves into something, we alter what it really is. Whether it be our bodies, or our minds, or even worse, our own social norms and beliefs. By injecting ourselves into an idea, and judging it as we see it, we change what it actually is. It is no longer factual, but instead, our own version of the fact. It becomes our own individual truth. This is the difference. Truth is individual interpretation and belief. Fact, simply is.

“Truth” and “Fact” are completely different things. Dramatically different in many situations. Because “Truth” is belief. If you believe something, it is truth. Fact exists outside the judgement and assessment of ourselves. It simply is. There is no interpretation from it, and no reaction acted upon it. The moment a person looks into a fact and judges it, it because “truth” to that person.

That fact still remains pure, but it will never be shared with others in a pure form. Truth is what we know and believe as fact from the fact itself, but it isn’t the fact. Now, this doesn’t mean that beliefs are pointless to our lives, but it should make you think about your own life, and your own views on the world. How much of your own views contain social context outside of the fact that you’re attempting to see? When you think about, say, dog fighting for example, what do you think about? The fact here, is that there are two living beings, displaying what we believe to be aggression, and that after a physical engagement, one animal’s body and mind fare better than the other.

By that description, it doesn’t sound all that bad. It sounds like nature, in it’s purest form. But, this isn’t what we believe. This isn’t the “truth” that we see. Instead, we see humans “forcing” dogs to do battle in a controlled and closed-off environment so that “poor creatures” without the ability to defend themselves can do battle to the death for human enjoyment and profit.

So which assessment is more correct? Difficult to answer if we’re comparing truth and fact. Social norms say that dog fighting is a terrible thing, something in which any person involved should be severely punished. However, if we go back a few thousand years to a few little cities in Italy, we’ll see the same exact situation occurring with human beings, celebrated in huge coliseums with royalty standing by. Fast forward to the 1800’s, when our nation was “free” from oppression, and witness the very same thing happening to humans originally from a plot of land which we label as Africa. Forced to do labor, and oppressed for the entertainment and profit of other humans.

We all agree, within the context of our lives, that this is “wrong,” but is there any fact in our feelings? I mean, our feelings are simply our brains interpreting something in a certain way, and then recreating an emotion and truth based on that judgement. So is “slavery is wrong” fact, or truth? I would agree that it’s terrible, wrong, and even disgraceful, but I don’t see it as “fact.” It’s an individual truth, shared by millions if not billions of other people around the world. But there are some people who don’t believe how I believe. To some, slavery is normal in their life, even to this day. People we would label as “primitive” still use this system in their societies, and believe it is just and correct. Their feelings and morals differ from our own, and they interpret an entirely different “truth.”

This is exactly why, when you argue or debate with another person, you are both speaking “truth,” and will never convince the other side of anything. If you’ve found yourself in a political debate, you know first hand how improbable ‘winning’ actually is. This is because you see the world differently. That’s no secret, but along with seeing the world differently, you also interpret different ideas of “truth.” Your truth isn’t theirs, and it’s impossible to break it, even with an astonishing amount of evidence. Human beings are naturally “hard-headed” and stubborn, and most are incapable of opening their mind to possibilities outside what already exists for them. Religious people are exactly the same, believing and living by a social code that is beyond any explanation possible, defying all evidence presented, and despite lacking evidence to support. Yet they hold onto this “truth” stronger than ever before if confronted with an obstacle or an unexplained phenomenon in their life. Everyone needs an answer, and when there isn’t one present, we create our own.

How many people remember seeing a plane fly into the second tower of the world trade center? Do you remember seeing a plane hit the second tower on television? What if I told you that this memory you have, which you hold to be “truth” is a lie? What if I told you, that there wasn’t a single television station airing that moment when it happened, and that footage wasn’t released until a while after the towers had already fell? Would you believe that? Think really hard… do you remember seeing it? You didn’t.

Unless a person is capable of putting aside judgement, bias, and any other form of assessing a truth as a fact, they’ll never see a fact. They will only, inevitably, see their own individual truth. Of course, I say this knowing that there aren’t many people today that’s capable of putting aside their own truth in place of another… or is there?

In conclusion: Facts are OBJECTIVE, meaning they can be empirically proven and observed. Truth is SUBJECTIVE, because it contains our own judgements from an objective observation, spun in a direction that best exists with our own social norms, and our own “wants” and “beliefs.” Truth is temporary. Facts exist in reality, untouched by our own reservations or judgements. They simply “are” as they are observed, in their raw form. Truth exists in our minds, as an interpretation of what we observe. It is only “real” because we believe it to be real in our minds.

So the next time you start to say a “fact” to somebody, remember that you’re lying to them. The next time you believe something you hold as “true” is actually real, you are lying to yourself.

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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