NPR CEO Katherine Maher believes pursuit of truth is a 'distraction' that can get in the way of 'getting things done'

"In fact, our reference for the truth might be a distraction that's getting in the way of finding common ground and getting things done."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

NPR's CEO Katherine Maher has a loose connection to the concept of truth. She thinks it is subjective. Speaking at a TED Talk in 2021 from her previous vantage point heading up Wikipedia, Maher explained how the truth can get in the way of doing what needs to be done.

She said that "when it comes to the hard things, the places where we are prone to disagreement, say politics and religion—Well, as it turns out, not only does Wikipedia's model work there, it actually works really well." Wikipedia's model is essentially a crowd-sourced information platform where users can offer alterations to previously written information. This is how JK Rowling had ended up being labeled as "transphobic" on the platform.

"Because in our normal lives," Maher went on, "these contentious conversations tend to erupt over a disagreement about what the truth actually is. But the people who write these articles, they're not focused on the truth.

"They're focused on something else: which is the best of what we can know right now.

"And after seven years of working with these brilliant folks, I've come to believe that they are on to something that perhaps for our most tricky disagreements, seeking the truth, and seeking to convince others of the truth might not be the right place to start.

"In fact, our reference for the truth might be a distraction that's getting in the way of finding common ground and getting things done." As head of NPR, Maher has said that even questioning newsroom bias is offensive. A whistleblower, Uri Berliner, who took his concerns about the fate of objectivity at NPR to The Free Press, was suspended for five days following publication of that article.

"Now, that is not to say that the truth doesn't exist. Nor is it to say that the truth isn't important. Clearly, the search for the truth has led us to do great things to learn great things.

"But I think if I were to really ask you to think about this, one of the things that we could all acknowledge is that part of the reason we have such glorious chronicles to the human experience and all forms of culture, is because we acknowledge there are many different truths.

"And so in the spirit of that, I'm certain that the truth exists for you, and probably for the person sitting next to you. But this may not be the same truth.

"This is because the truth of the matter is very often for many people, what happens when we merge facts about the world with our beliefs about the world.

"So we all have different truths. They're based on things like where we come from, how we were raised, and how other people perceive."

Maher essentially said that she doesn't know the difference between subjective experience and reality. She probably also believes that some men and women can swap sexes if they wish really hard and demand everyone else believe it too.
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