Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

I really enjoyed Aline’s post yesterday concerning truth and a bit of background on her experiences as a Justice of the Peace. I, for one, would love to hear more on this subject. Probably a lot of the job was rather boring, but I’m certain that interesting things and situations arose on many occasions during her tenure on the bench.

But more absorbing were her comments on truth.

Truth is a funny thing. Everyone sees it differently. One person’s truth is another person’s lie — and oftentimes both parties believe they are correct, that their truth is the correct one.

Take witnesses at an accident scene. Conflicting statements will abound if the number of witnesses is large. It’s one reason police always take witness statements in private, so that they might be able to sort through them and come to firmer conclusions on what actually took place.

Then there are smaller situations. I’m sure everyone has had heated discussions about many things. I call it (somewhat jokingly) a red/green discussion. Basically stated it’s this: one person thinks something is one way (“I think it’s red.”), the other disagrees (“You’re wrong, it’s definitely green.”) and both are certain that they are correct. They cannot be dissuaded. If it happens to be someone near and dear to you, it’s always best to just walk away, because arguing will only make it worse. Arguments over religious views come to mind here.

The point with Aline’s post is that it can be awfully hard to separate truth from lies.

It might be mighty difficult to get reliable witness statements at an accident scene, but it’s far more difficult to get reliable truths when 2 sides (or more) are firmly convinced that they are correct and even have a belief system to bolster their argument. For instance, how do you tell them that thing they’re holding is blue when they know it’s red? They may be deluded, they may be lying, or they may be furthering some agenda. How do you deal with it?

I haven’t seen this dealt with in too many crime novels, but it would be an intriguing thing to spin a story around, wouldn’t it?


Charlotte Hinger said...

Rick, when I was editing the Sheridan County History books and collecting family stories, I was amazed at how different members of a family would see events entirely differently.

Rick Blechta said...

Exactly my point. Seems to me a good police procedural could be built around this premise — and probably has, but I just haven't heard about it.