Truth word on group of stones on the sand

Truth is that which is in accord with reality, fact, and experience, that which is authentic. Truth can include facts, and truth can include a coherence with experience. The word in English derives from an older word similar to that meaning faithful (truth is that which is faithful to reality or experience), and ultimately is derived from a root meaning tree. To be truthful is to be as straight and strong as a tree. Other languages have words for truth (veritas, pravda, etc.) that have different derivations.

These quotations explore aspects of truth and truth-telling.

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Superstition is marked not by its pretension to a body of knowledge but by its method of seeking truth.

— Carl Sagan

At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes — an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.

— Carl Sagan

Those who make uncritical observations or fraudulent claims lead us into error and deflect us from the major human goal of understanding how the world works. It is for this reason that playing fast and loose with the truth is a very serious matter.

— Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain

There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie.

— Cornel West

It would be better for us to have some doubts in an honest pursuit of truth, than it would be for us to be certain about something that was not true.

— Daniel Wallace

In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.

— David Hume

Truth springs from argument amongst friends.

— David Hume

A wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence.

— David Hume

What has not been examined impartially has not been well examined. Skepticism is therefore the first step towards truth.

— Denis Diderot

Protest is this idea of telling the truth in public.

— Deray McKesson

Never does hatred cease by hating in return; only through love can hatred come to an end. Victory breeds hatred; the conquered dwell in sorrow and resentment. They who give up all thought of victory or defeat may be calm and live happily at peace. Let us overcome violence by gentleness; let us overcome evil by good; Let us overcome the miserly by liberality; let us overcome the liar by truth.

— Dhammapada

No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

The ultimate aim of the human mind, in all its efforts, is to become acquainted with Truth.

— Eliza Farnham

I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. Whatever is achieved must be achieved with the full exercise of passion, of vision, of pain, of fear, and of sorrow. How do we know … that our part of the meaning of the universe might not be a rhythm in sorrow?

— Ernest Becker

Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.

— Fannie Lou Hamer

The truth which has made us free will in the end make us glad also.

— Felix Adler

Theories of what is true have their day. They come and go, leave their deposit in the common stock of knowledge, and are supplanted by other more convincing theories. The thinkers and investigators of the world are pledged to no special theory, but feel themselves free to search for the greater truth beyond the utmost limits of present knowledge. So likewise in the field of moral truth, it is our hope, that men in proportion as they grow more enlightened, will learn to hold their theories and their creeds more loosely, and will none the less, nay, rather all the more be devoted to the supreme end of practical righteousness to which all theories and creeds must be kept subservient.

— Felix Adler

Let us found religion upon a basis of perfect intellectual honesty. Religion, if it is to mean anything at all, must stand for the highest truth. How then can the cause of truth be served by the sacrifice, more or less disguised, of one’s intellectual convictions?

— Felix Adler

Though aware that our knowledge is incomplete, that our truth is partial, that our love is imperfect, we believe that new light is ever waiting to break through individual hearts and minds.

— First Unitarian Church of Chicago, Statement of Faith

The contemplation of things as they are, without substitution or imposture, without error or confusion, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.

— Francis Bacon

The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

— Frederick Douglass

There are no facts, only interpretations.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Faith is a commitment to live as if certain things are true, and thereby help to make them so. Faith is a commitment to live as if life is a wondrous mystery, as if life is good, as if love is divine, as if we are responsible for the well-being of those around us.

— Galen Guengrich

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

— Galileo Galilei

All great truths begin as blasphemies.

— George Bernard Shaw

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.

— George Bernard Shaw, sometimes misattributed to Oscar Wilde

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

— George Orwell, 1984

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.

— Gloria Steinem
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