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“Hand holding a glass globe reflecting a lake landscape” by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Has the word “Truth” lost all meaning?

On 8 Mile Road on the northern border of Detroit, there is an adults only entertainment establishment called “Truth.” Ironically, this is the club that President Trump’s onetime crush, current tormentor, recently visited.

In other news, Khloé Kardashian apparently named her daughter “True” just days after her husband’s cheating ways started to come to light. Again, the irony was lost on nobody, although one website pointed out that the name is not all that uncommon, since Forest Whitaker gave his child that name as well. Nevertheless, “True” joins the clan with other children named North, Saint, Dream and Stormi.

With all due respect to Forest, Stormy (not the Kardashian) and Khloé, truth used to mean something. It used to represent an objective fact that was verifiable through independent means.

Now, though, we live in a “post-truth” society, in which the President of the United States says one thing on the record and claims the next he never said it. The idea that we could trust our government officials and established institutions, including our free press, seems almost quaint. Could we even imagine the President of France saying about our current President what Charles de Gaulle said about President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, “ The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me.”

Perhaps the association of the word “truth” with adult entertainment venues and Kardashian names points to the fact that the word itself has lost all meaning. Where documented facts can be dismissed as “fake news,” and scientific near-certainty is treated with contempt, we as a society can no longer agree on anything at all. Facts no longer exist, only opinion. Expertise is no longer something to strive for when anyone with a Youtube account can be famous. We have to respect everyone’s opinion, even if it is based on facts that are simply not true.

But again, perhaps the idea of truth just doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a scary thought, reminding us of the warnings George Orwell gave us about a time when words lose all meaning. His books 1984 and Animal Farm were cautionary tales against the tyranny of post-World War II communism. Nowadays, with communism on the ropes, his admonition seems no less apt.

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Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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