Lies and honest mistakes
Why our knowledge crisis is essentially ethical, and so are its solutions. The difference between truth and truthfulness is significant, but it is at risk of being lost in arguments over fake news and ‘post truth’ politics. Richard V. Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues that the problem is not discerning who is telling the truth or lying but actually trying to tell the truth. Here, he explains why rewarding ‘truthfulness’ above ‘truth’ is a step towards a solution. "Faced with an urgent need for information, we just want the truth. In response to the question ‘Which way to the emergency room?’, all that really matters is the accuracy of the response. But much of the time, it’s more important that a person is speaking truthfully than that they’re speaking the truth, especially when the answers are not yet clear. Most of us feel very differently towards the friend who makes an honest mistake, perhaps based on inadequate information, and the one who tells a deliberate lie."