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Doubt As a Friend of Truth

Whenever we move from belief to doubt by recognizing the flaws in what we previously considered to be good evidence, we take a step closer towards wisdom.

The pursuit of truth isn’t just a matter of learning exciting new facts about the world; it’s also a matter of unlearning the fallacies and unquestioned assumptions that underlie our claims to knowledge.

If we truly wish to know the unknown, we must be prepared to unknow the known.


Think it through

If you need to invoke your academic pedigree or job title for people to believe what you say, then you need a better argument.” -Neil deGrasse Tyson

Be more interested in people’s thoughts than in their titles.

Pay closer attention to what they have to say than to where they studied.

Actively analyze their concepts instead of passively praising their credentials.

Check their premises regardless of their pedigree.

Weigh the arguments and be wary of all appeals to authority.

“Who’s who?” has nothing to do with “What’s true?”

So, no matter who says it, think it through.


Imagine the following scenario:

I’m sitting in a business meeting with a potential investor discussing my company’s shareholder agreement.

The investor prospect asks, “T.K., can you explain the meaning of the second sentence in the first paragraph on page two?”

I randomly respond by saying, “I had pancakes for breakfast this morning!”

The prospect gives me a weird look and then replies, “…and what does that have to do with my question about the shareholder agreement?”

“Well, I don’t know”, I say defensively. “But it’s TRUE! I REALLY DID have pancakes for breakfast this morning!”

If the above scenario sounds a little “off”, that’s because it should.

It sounds “off” because of a basic distinction we all recognize between “truthfulness” and “relevance”.

“Truthfulness” is the quality of someone who accurately reports facts.

“Relevance” is the attribute of something that is usable or related to the matter at hand.

Being truthful is not the same as being relevant.

What I have to say may be factual, but that doesn’t mean my facts are going to be useful, helpful, or connected to the things that matter to the audience I’m addressing.

In my above scenario, the statement “I had pancakes for breakfast this morning” was TRUE, but in relation to my potential investor’s concerns it was irrelevant.

It may have been relevant to ME. After all, I get to decide what’s important to me.

The investor, on the other hand, is under no obligation to indulge ideas that are irrelevant to HIM nor does he need to feel guilty for refusing to do so.

Here’s today’s two cents:

There are many sources of information that are eager to inform you of the latest horror story that took place somewhere in the universe.

And even though these horror stories may frighten you, depress you, or stress you out, these “news outlets” feel quite proud of themselves for telling you anyway because, after all, IT’S TRUE!

“But it’s true!” is the ultimate trump card.


Because if something is true, then we’re being delusional if we DON’T pay attention to it, right???


You’re being delusional ONLY if you ignore something that YOU actually NEED to pay attention to.

If you’re choosing to ignore a message of doom and gloom because 1) it doesn’t benefit you to be aware of it and 2) your energy is better spent on constructive things, then you’re not being delusional. You’re being deliberate. You’re being conscious of how you use your time. You’re being healthy.

Some truths, whether they feel good to listen to or not, ARE things you need to know.

HOWEVER, there are also some truths, including so-called negative ones, that you DON’T need to know.

Ultimately, YOU have to be the one who decides what kind of information-diet best serves YOU.

This is not about other people’s right to report whatever facts they wish to report. It’s about your right to decide what you should focus on.

I believe in freedom of speech. I do NOT believe in the mindless consumption of every piece of data that’s put in front of our faces.

Be deliberate about the stories you consume and the ideas in which you indulge.

Whether they are negative or positive isn’t what’s important.

What’s important is that you are putting your attention on the things that take YOU where YOU want to be.

At least that’s the way I see it.

What are your thoughts?

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The truth is never negative Part II

Our reactions to the truth may be negative, but that says more about us than the truth itself.

I was once in love with a girl who said she no longer wanted to be with me. That truth broke my heart. I didn’t want to hear it. It hurt like hell.

My reaction was harsh, but that doesn’t mean the truth was negative.

Who’s to say that something is negative or bad just because it conflicts with our agendas?

Who’s to say that something is negative or bad just because it forces us to change, adapt, and reinvent ourselves?

Who’s to say that something is negative or bad just because it makes us uncomfortable or just because we don’t like it?

Do our personal feelings of fear, disappointment, anger, and insecurity become the arbitrator for what Reality is?

If a Doctor told me I was going to die tomorrow, I would probably be sad and scared, but does that mean the truth of my forthcoming death is negative?

If so, how can I be sure of that? How do I know?

I, personally, don’t think we’re being skeptical enough when we say things like “this is a bad situation or this is a negative truth.” What does that really mean? How do I really know that?

I can be certain of what I feel. When I am sad or angry or depressed, I can be certain that I feel bad. But how can I go from FEELING bad to saying that the truth of a situation ACTUALLY IS bad?

Here’s an example that’s off the subject a bit, but it may help clarify:

If I try a taste of chocolate ice cream and I decide that I don’t like it, I might express myself by saying “chocolate ice cream is gross.”

In reality, chocolate ice cream is just chocolate ice cream.

“Grossness” is not a property that exists inside of chocolate ice cream. “Grossness” is a description of how much I personally dislike the taste of the ice cream.

My tastes, however, do not define what the ice cream is in an objective sense. Some people will taste the same flavor and they will say “it’s great.” Even then, however, those people are just describing their taste.

In an analogous way, the truth transcends all the different labels we put on it.

Truth is not defined by the distaste we may have for it, because the truth is bigger than our reactions to it.

In the same way that chocolate ice cream is not gross, the truth is not negative.

That’s T.K.’s two cents.

To read the first part of “The truth is never negative” click here.

Tell yourself the truth EVEN IF it makes you happy

In virtually any discussion on optimism and the pursuit of happiness, SOMEONE is almost guaranteed to utter some variation of the following:

“Optimism is good, but it’s also important to be honest and not delude ourselves about the real stuff that’s going on in the world.”

Usually, when these sorts of statements are made, the word “honest” means “negative” and the term “real stuff” means “bad stuff.”

I get it.

It’s a wise sentiment. It makes a great deal of sense. It needs to be said.


Here’s something else that needs to be said if we’re going to have an honest discussion about being honest:

Lying to one’s self is STILL an unhealthy practice EVEN when those lies consists of socially acceptable rants about how powerless we all are. To deny one’s ability to influence his own state of mind is NO LESS ABSURD than to deny the fact that there are challenges in the world. 

It’s delusional to lie to yourself about feeling good when you really feel like crap.

But it’s also delusional to lie to yourself about being unable to create positive changes.

The truth is truth even when it’s not negative. The truth is truth even when it sounds cheesy. The truth is truth even when it makes you laugh. The truth is truth even when it takes your attention away from a problem.

The notion that one must either be unhappy or delusional is a false dilemma.

Lying to yourself is what happens when you deliberately misrepresent the truth.

Happiness is what happens when you tell yourself the truth in an empowering way.

Being happy does NOT require you to ignore your hardships. It simply invites you to look beyond them.

Optimism isn’t about denial. It’s about determination; the determination to decide our own internal state independently of external conditions; the determination to live even in the face of pending doom and inevitable death.

So, YES, Tell yourself the truth EVEN IF it makes you happy!


T.K. Coleman

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