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Omaha Magazine

Use the Jargon in This Column (To Impress Your Friends at Cocktail Parties)

Oct 08, 2021 01:00PM ● By Megan Bartholomew
Otis Twelve column photo

The truth will set you free.

Unfortunately, a lot of people will tell you that nowadays it’s impossible to know what is true. “Facts,” they will say, “depend on your agenda.”  

“It fact,” they will say without any sense of the irony of their choice of words, “Truth is not dependent on facts at all.”

Take it from me—I studied philosophy and metaphysics at an accredited college—this is a problem that people who attend, or have tenure at, accredited colleges have been writing papers about since Austin Norman Palmer invented his cursive script after serving time as a chore boy at a school of penmanship. 

Objective truth can be as elusive as a hyperactive puppy with one of your socks hiding under a Danish modern loveseat. Such truth only exists if it exists separate from the effects of being observed by an observer. Which is silly, because we all know that if a one-handed tree falls in the forest and no one is there to clap, how many monkeys and how many typewriters can dance on the head of a pin?

And what about objective reality? Anything related to experience must also be independent of mind. Thus, objective reality is formless until it is observed by a mind. Only when experienced does reality have form—which, thanks to Steve Jobs, can now be filled out online. This phenomenon is well known by anyone who has ever answered the question, “Do these pants make me look fat?” In other words, objective truth is not always a worthwhile ideal.

Facts are anything that exists in objective reality. Objective truth is the recognition of that reality. Facts are metaphysical. Truth is epistemological. Or, as they say on Facebook, “That’s not what I discovered on YouTube.”  

Therein lies the problem. In our modern fog of unreality, all of truth and all facts are purely determined by the source from which said truth or fact is gleaned. Worse, all sources are now judged to be equal no matter their pedigree.

A paper in a medical journal discussing the disease process of a particular pathogen using laboratory data and statistics derived from a double blind study of organisms infected with the virus in question, is no more credible than an Instagram photo with a snappy meme about “sheeple” and invisible rays from a 5G Android phone.

This current craze of dismissing expertise, doubting credentials, poo-pooing observable reality, and doubting anything that one already doubts can lead to problems in medical practice, politics, and if followed further, car repair. “I could not trust my mechanic because he was in league with big parts. So I had that nice telemarketer fix my transmission.”

Making any judgments at all these days involves being certain that truth, facts, and opinion are one-and-the-same, and being able to magically discern the bias of any truth, fact, or opinion before actually being exposed to them. 

Is my “truth” the “real” truth?  Are my “facts” the actual “true” and “real” facts? You could “verify” what I have said. For instance, what’s the most number of “times” that “terms” can be placed in “quotation marks” before the “punctuation police” arrive to “arrest” me? Was A.N. Palmer actually a chore boy at a penmanship school?  Were there really ever such things as penmanship schools? Is there such a thing as a master penman?  Go ahead, look it up on YouTube. Then scatter some of the jargon I’ve used here around at the next cocktail party you attend with your entourage. People will think you a boor, albeit a bright one.

Anyway that’s my deconstruction of our current metaphysical crisis. Whether I can be trusted is, of course, dependent on whether I have an agenda or not. Let me be clear, I do not have an agenda. 

I have a Hyundai. 

Otis Twelve hosts the radio program Morning Classics with Otis Twelve on 90.7 KVNO, weekday mornings from 6-10 a.m. Visit kvno.org for more information.


This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.