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Thread: Facts vs Truth

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    Wolfie's Avatar

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    Facts vs Truth

    Which is more important? Facts or Truth?

    The reason I started this thread is because of the recent political/Moore/religion threads that have been started lately and I figured this would be a good, non-flame (I hope) thread to discuss.

    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?

    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?

    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?

    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?

    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?


    Edit: Please keep this constructive and non-threatening/insulting. If you got something positive to say, please contribute. If not, please do everyone here a favor and move on. Thanks.

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  3. #2

    Wolfie's Avatar

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    I will answer my own questions since I did start the thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Which is more important? Facts or Truth
    The truth, always
    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?
    No. In regards to non-entertainment media, it is the writer's/director's/storyteller's job to present all known facts so that the reader can made an informed decision. If you truly believe in something, be intelligent about presenting all the facts so that your reader/audience can see the situation from both sides.

    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?
    No on both. As a writer/director of a documentary, you have the obligation of presenting facts as they are. You shouldn't distort facts in any way to give the reader/audience a false impression.

    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?
    No. Just because something is factual, doesn't make it the truth. Sometimes key facts can be left out to cause a different impression.

    For example,

    "I feel no pity for them." as quoted by a witness to an accident involving several teens in critical condition sounds really bad (even though it is factual).

    However, in a different context..

    "The kids just ran across the road weaving in and out of traffic like idiots trying to cause accidents and the truck driver did all he could to avoid those teens in the road. I feel no pity for them."

    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?
    No. How can you back up a fact if it is based totally on a belief?

    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?
    No, a documentary should not tell you what to think. The viewers should make their own decision after the documentary presents the truth.

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?

    a. Facts must always be left out. It is impossible to include all facts in any situation. Try to explain everything you did in a day. Not possible. Did you count the number of breaths you took? I think you meant - to leave out "important" facts - but that is more an issue of distortion.

    b. Distortion is an issue of perspective, and a natural by-product in the creation of any (non-abstract) creative product - including novels, songs, sermons, journalistic reporting, philosophy, and even birthday cards. In the development of a creative product, such as a film documentary, the artist or craftsmen must take an objective and use their skills to effectively reach that objective. That means a talented writer, director or musician is able to make the right choices to reach their end-goal. So, in the construction of a scene, for instance, the director has an objective in mind, and then constructs his scene to reach that objective.

    This always entails a distortion of the facts, which is to say, the pieces (facts) are assembled in a way that, by their very nature, can not contain their full context. The job of an editorial columnist, for instance, is to assemble facts and opinions in a way that points to a greater context. I believe a documentary is very similar in nature to an editorial column. This is how we understand our world. Because we can not understand full context at all times, nor communicate it, we assemble the context from the pieces as best we can.

    c. The real issue at hand is: how much do we trust the context we are being presented with? And does the artist/craftsmen have a responsibility to be trustworthy? In my opinion, this is important, and I think the reaction we are seeing to Michael Moore is an important response. I think the artist/craftsmen has a responsibility to be trustworthy, but I believe the audience also has a responsibility to receive critically. And I believe these two responsibilities, carried out, will create a good balance. That is why the response to Michael Moore is important.


    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?

    The issue of what does or does not constitute a documentary is an issue for filmmakers. I have always associated a documentary with an editorial column in a newspaper. It is an attempt to provide perspective and context to dry facts. In that definition, I believe it is justifiable for a documentary to not present all facts because, as I said, this is impossible, and counter-productive to the goal of providing perspective and context.

    The question of bias or perspective distorting facts is one of degree. As I have said, bias and distortion are inherent in a documentary, as well as other "unbiased" things such as journalism. If anything, I think the concept of "movie facts" is important in recognizing just how subjective facts are - how much context can change things.

    So, to answer the second question, I think it is a matter of degree, and that degree will be decided by a responsible public, who chooses to accept or reject the product.


    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?

    Yes and No. Events are inherently subjective, but specifics such as numbers, chronology, names and places are not.

    For full details on how I feel about facts vs. truth, read the book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. Particularly the chapter on how to tell a true war story.


    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?

    If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Haha! Yay me! I avoided the question!


    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?

    A documentary should entertain and educate. Whatever methods it takes is allright with me, but I may reject it if certain practices do not uphold certain values I have (like a minimum of objectivity). Personally, I tend to prefer movies, books and documentaries that present a situation, and leave the conclusion for me to figure out and draw from.

    So, I would only enjoy a documentary that tells me what to think if I already agree with it. Otherwise, I won't like it. It will entertain me, but not educate me.

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?
    Short answer to the three verbs: No/No/Yes. See answer three for more details.
    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?
    Documentaries are under no obligation to present all known facts. Present FACTS, yes; all known, no. News media (particulalry those who go so far as to label themselves "fair and balanced") have this obligation, I think.
    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?
    Yes. Absolutely. The omission of other facts does not make the given facts any less truthful; omission CAN cause one to draw a conclusion that may not coincide with truth; however, this is not the fault of the facts.
    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?
    Facts are grounded in truth. They're specific instances of truth, if you will. If your belief and faith happens to coincide with truth, then life is good.
    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?
    A good documentary will give you facts and let you draw your conclusions on your own. "All known facts" wouldn't fit inside a space reserved for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, maybe not even a set of encyclopedias, so subjecting a documentary (well, at least the documentaries that have been bandied about lately) to that criterion is nigh impossible.
    Which is more important? Facts or Truth?
    And the first question last.
    Truth, but only because it encompasses all facts.

    NS Game Officer. TF2 Admin. BF2 Admin / Scripter. PM with issues.
    Tempus: Pokerface is nailing it right on the head. Everyone who is arguing against him is simply arguing against reality.
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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    For god's sake, don't you have anything else to talk about?

    The problem with this place now is demonstrated by the following:

    This forum has more posts than any of the gaming forums.


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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Tempus
    For god's sake, don't you have anything else to talk about?

    The problem with this place now is demonstrated by the following:

    This forum has more posts than any of the gaming forums.

    I will refer back to my original post

    Quote Originally Posted by MYSELF
    If you got something positive to say, please contribute. If not, please do everyone here a favor and move on. Thanks.

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?
    Justifiable yes, should it be done, no, not really. Everyone in media has there own spin/take on things and I think expecting the goodwill of human nature to come through and post unbiased commentary is sadly not going to happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?
    Given the double edge oif this question, yes a documentary can present some of the facts, it starts to get wooly when the narrator leads you down a particular path. How can you govern a persons opinion. I think given the 'fact' that you are talking about Moore, most of his claims are based on fact, they are just spun and marketed differently.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?
    Basically, yes, but the facts can be arranged in such a way to infer something else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?
    Nope.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie
    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?
    This is an odd one, has a programme or article ever 'told' you what to think. Maybe for some people, but I always make up my own mind, as I'm sure you do Wolf.

    Oh, and the fact that these threads are more active than the game ones could be misconstrued into - a) lack of interest in a game thread, or b) everyone is too busy playing games to post there or c) this is an evolved community...draw your own conclusion Tempus

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    Question 1) Is it justifiable to distort/edit/leave out facts to present your ideas in today's media? Does the end justify the means?
    What you described is lying.

    Question 2) Is it justifiable to claim your work as a documentary if you don't present all known facts? Is it justifiable to claim a documentary if your "movie facts" do not coincide with actual real world facts?
    See answer to number 1.

    Question 3) If something is factual, is it the truth?
    Not necessarily.

    Question 4) If a fact is based on a belief or faith, is it truly a fact?
    Nothing based solely on some arbitrary belief system can be called a fact unless there is supporting evidence found outside the belief system.

    Question 5) Should a documentary tell you what you should think or should a documentary present all the known facts concerning the issue being discussed and let the viewers form their own opinions?
    A documentary should only be concerned with presenting the facts. Period. There's not really any room for intelligent debate on that one.

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    Re: Facts vs Truth

    I think people should first educate themselves in what they are talking about before they embark on discussing the facts. By this I mean people should refrain from commenting on something they think they heard or read - if you have a point, make sure you can source that point. I think a lot of people post about what or how they remember things and that isn't a good way because usually they are incorrect. By doing a quick reminder-research, you can then check that you remember it correctly or not. For instance, the senate report that came out some journalist was reporting on it incorrectly. When I took the time to read some of it, it turns out that he was misleading the readers. If you have the source from the horses mouth - read it, or read the parts that are important to you. Also in newspapers readers should be wary of bogus and/or misleading headlines and read the full report. There are numerous instances where headlines say one thing and the actual body text says another.

    So I guess I'm saying check your facts 1st before posting them. As for truth, that is important - the most important value but how do you tell? The oxymoron of 'there's no such thing as an honest politician' is said by most people who vote - in one hand they'll use this comment and yet seem blinkered to it for their own party leader. Truth is subjective and one persons truth differs to that of anothers. Get 10 people to report an accident and not one of those reports will tally. However, each of these people will tell their individual reports truthfully. However lies are harder because you have to remember them.
    Jex.


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