Default to Truth and Debates

“Default to Truth” is something that was crystallized in my mind by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Talking to Strangers.

Something interesting about why debates, especially presidential ones, hold some much anticipation is because of the drama that is present when “Default to Truth” breaks down. If defaulting to think that everyone is telling the truth is most people’s natural state, then someone has to be wrong or lying when debate contests argue opposites on a specific point. This is what creates the tension. People are looking to see that the person they “Default to Truth” with is the one that is actually trustworthy.

A good presentation, or at least a good way to create excitement, is to create tension (which I’ve written about before here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)to Breaking the “Default to Truth” is another way of creating that tension. It doesn’t have to be you calling someone else out. It can be showing two clips of others with opposite thoughts. It could be showing a counter example after showing someone make a claim opposite to your example.

“Default to truth” is a powerful function that almost all humans have. Sometimes to make our case, what someone previously held as the truth has to be broken, and to do that requires at least a bit of tension.