Tag Archives: Stephen Colbert

Truthiness Wins

If you’re not familiar with the term “truthiness,” you should be. Coined way back in 2005 by Stephen Colbert, it’s a term that refers to

"I created this cartoon illustration in c...

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the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.

It was meant to be a term of satire, generally describing a politician departing from an obvious set of facts to espouse something that seems like the truth but isn’t. A dozen years ago, that was a circumstance that was relatively unusual. Today, it’s the norm, both in business and out. If you’re reading today’s screed thinking that I have an answer, you can stop here: I don’t. There are way too many vested interests that have come to rely on truthiness as a way of doing business, and that’s a shame.

Facebook recently admitted that Russian agents used its network to distribute disinformation to roughly 10 million U.S. users in order to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They and other social platforms are trying to figure out how to readily identify “fake news“, all of which fits the definition of truthiness to a tee. To paraphrase Cassius in Julius Caesar, the fault, dear reader, is not in our stars or our social platforms, but in ourselves. We believe what we want to believe thanks to confirmation bias, and the explosion of content sources has made it possible for us never to hear a point of view to the contrary.

This is bad in real life and could be fatal in business. If we only pay close attention to evidence and arguments that support our own thinking on various business issues, and to toss out or ignore contradictory evidence, the odds are good that we’ll fall for something that’s truthy rather than true.

It’s 2017 and truthiness has won, or at least it’s holding the high ground and doing an excellent job of fighting off reality. Our job as business people is to win the battle and put truthiness back into the hands of the satirist from whence it came, both in business and in real life. Are you with me?

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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Phoning It In

There’s a certain tendency in today’s hyper-segmented media environment to want to scream louder than the next get to get noticed.  To a certain extent I suppose it’s part of the game along with the apparent contest of who can say the most outrageous things.  I guess the more “out there” or offensive the statement the higher the chance of it going viral.  I don’t necessarily fault those who do it – you guys can make a list pretty easily – except when they make things up and label them as fact.  Not great in media and really bad in business. Continue reading

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Filed under Consulting


WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 30:  Comedians Stephen Co...

I’m not sure if you were one of the 250,000 or so folks who went to Jon Stewart‘s rally over the weekend or if you, like me, watched any of it on TV. For the most part, I thought it was great satire and I mean that in the purest sense of holding up a mirror to individuals or society as a whole so we can see the ridiculous nature of some of what goes on.
As you guys know, we don’t do politics here, but since Election Day is upon us, I think we can take a few of Stewart’s points, which he intended for politicians and the media, and apply them to business. Continue reading

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Filed under Reality checks