Friday, December 9, 2011

The Simplicity of Truth

My family loves to play games – cards, board games, drawing games, you name it, we’ve played it.

For a time, a favorite was Balderdash, where you lie (bluff) word meanings, trying to convince competitors that your hoax definition is really the genuine article.

My son Ben was a teenager when we spent hours and hours working our way through the Balderdash card box, continually amazed at how many words there are that we’d never heard of.

And much to Ben’s chagrin, I could almost always tell when a definition was one of his creations: he’d take a word like verdigris (actual definition: the green stuff on copper) and come up with something like the true and genuine meaning of fictitious grist for the mill, usually seen in the pulp novellas of the 19th century in England and generally read by poor women of the day. . .

The less Ben knew, the longer and more convoluted his definitions became.  Even when I told him, less is better, he just couldn’t help himself. . . his manufactured truth just had to be a thing of complexity.

And so it is in life: truth is a fairly simple thing; deception, by its very nature and in its effort to obscure and disguise the truth, is a thing of nonsensical complexity.

Some years ago an independent candidate for president had a running mate who, during the debates, was asked the usual questions, but he gave simple, direct answers.  I still remember the shock and surprise of the moderator: this man was not acting according to the script.  Don’t you want to say more?  he was asked.  No, was his simple, truthful answer.

It’s a pretty good template for judging truth: the more words, the less truth.


  1. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive....My Nana said this to me often and it is as true as ever. Great post! (There, was that brief enough, so you know I'm telling you the truth?)

  2. Ginny - definitely brief enough :-) Beth