Take the Pro-Truth Pledge (because we’re all fallible)

Pro-Truth Pledge LogoI  learnt about this pledge from the Skeptic Reading Room. And while I generally loathe public pledges (too much virtue signalling for my liking), I am making an exception for this one, in response to our exceptional times. And the fine print makes admirable reading. Besides,  several hundred public figures and organizations have signed it, including Steven Pinker and Peter Singer, and what’s good enough for them is good enough for me. Many dozens of politicians have signed it as well, and one of the aims is to persuade more to do so, and hold them accountable.

Truth matters. Propagating untruth is big business and big politics. The traditional guardians of truth have abdicated, are compromised, or lack traction. By default, the job of protecting truth falls to us. We need to take our responsibility seriously.

We are all drawn towards confirmation bias, group think (our own group, of course!), lack of diligence in verifying material that agrees with us, lack of charity towards opponents, and more besides. So the pledge is no trivial commitment and I certainly found that reading it gave me much pause for thought about my own behaviour.

Here’s what the pledge commits you to. You can sign it here. I have. Hold me to it.

I Pledge My Earnest Efforts To:

Share truth

  • Verifyfact-check information to confirm it is true before accepting and sharing it
  • Balance: share the whole truth, even if some aspects do not support my opinion
  • Cite: share my sources so that others can verify my information
  • Clarify: distinguish between my opinion and the facts

Honor truth

  • Acknowledge: acknowledge when others share true information, even when we disagree otherwise
  • Reevaluate: reevaluate if my information is challenged, retract it if I cannot verify it
  • Defend: defend others when they come under attack for sharing true information, even when we disagree otherwise
  • Align: align my opinions and my actions with true information

Encourage truth

  • Fix: ask people to retract information that reliable sources have disproved even if they are my allies
  • Educate: compassionately inform those around me to stop using unreliable sources even if these sources support my opinion
  • Defer: recognize the opinions of experts as more likely to be accurate when the facts are disputed
  • Celebrate: celebrate those who retract incorrect statements and update their beliefs toward the truth

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on November 29, 2017, in Politics, Society and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I had a good look at the pledge site and it certainly seems to be a bold effort to ensure we do our best to stick to the facts.
    In science the facts generally lead to a consensus among the experts to explain them, but is this really the case in many other areas of human investigation? The wide variation of the opinions of politics often result from the same facts. History is another area where facts are interpreted in different ways and truth is an elusive concept. I’m happy with scientific truth derived from the facts and agreed on by the experts , but the rest seems to me to be very debatable.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin and commented:
    Not all like signing pleadges like this, but it very relevant today.

    LPolitics is plagued by fakenews and post-truth as it seems politicians compete with each other to spew out the most blantant post-truth aka lies.

    It is equally bad when science impinges on daily lives. We all know of the post-truth of Creationists, which is often deliberate. But we see the same on GMOs and glyphosphate. On climate change we have the fake news and post-truth from the extreme climate deniers to the radical activists like Bill McKibbin, Friends of the Earth and Christian groups like Operation Noah. I don’t who are the worst

    And then there is fracking, and antifrackers have got post-truth down to fine art.

    Read and enjoy, but only after you have marked, learned and inwardly digested

    Even if you do not sign the pledge, make sure that you carry it out by sharing, honouring and encouraging truth and show no quarter to those who persistently do not

    Like

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