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"Truthy" and "falsy" in programming: pre-Colbert or post-Colbert?[edit]

As a non-American I'm wondering: do these terms actually pre-date Colbert's penning of the gut-truth definition or are they obvious references us foreigners couldn't possibly spot? In programming the adjectives "truthy" and "falsy" refer to values which evaluate to the booleans "true" and "false" (rather than the boolean values themselves). In JavaScript, for example, the numerical value "0" or the empty array "[]" would both be "falsy", other numerical values or non-empty arrays on the other hand would be "truthy". The terms are probably limited to dynamically typed languages, though some statically typed languages seem to allow using non-booleans as booleans (though this may be related to how booleans and boolean comparisons are implemented, so this may be very different). --- (talk) 16:41, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

I added a paragraph on this, but it needs a bit of help (eg, with citations). FWIW, here are some relevant links:, RichMorin (talk) 04:45, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Truthiness (as an intensively discussed topic) has a long history in coding, particularly in weakly-typed languages like JavaScript, SQL or Visual Basic. Crockford would be a solid ref for this. Unlike strongly-typed languages (Pascal being one of the first popular ones to have a specific Boolean type) or like C, where programmers counted every bit mentally, JavaScript and especially the varying notions of false / 0 / null / empty / void made a robust abstract model of their interpretation as truthful essential for reliable coding. I doubt the word truthiness is etymologically any older than Colbert, but the concept certainly is. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:44, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Hm -- this paragraph seems to have been cut. Strange. Does anyone know why? I've found uses of "truthy" going back years before Colbert. --winterstein (talk) 12:18, 14 July 2016 (UTC)
Just the regular edit-warring from GliderMaven, who is equally omniscient on all technical topics.
For sources, Niklaus Wirth might be good as an early one, as he had some heated debate with Kernighan and Ritchie over C's fairly free-wheeling use of truthiness for a wide range of values - probably the first time that such behaviour had been codified in a language spec and encouraged as best practice, rather than being an accidental side effect. Pascal of course took a strictly typed approach with an explicit Boolean type.
The concept of "truthiness" has at least 40 years well-documented and sourceable history in computing, with a meaning of, "That which evaluates as true, no matter its actual value or representation." The specific word used here probably dates from Colbert. I'm in the UK, I've heard the term in use since around 2006, but still don't know what a Colbert is.
For a recent use, Crockford's slim JavaScript book (O'Reilly, Butterfly cover) uses the notion and term. Andy Dingley (talk) 18:07, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
None of which has anything at all to do with the topic of the article, which is when a human being believes in something irrespective of facts. The other definition of 'truthiness' is only there because it's been connected to the topic via an on-topic reference saying that the word truthiness already existed, and that was done specifically in context. That doesn't mean you get to list every other definition of truthiness in the article. That's OR, and violates WP:NOT. Even if you reference it, that's not sufficient to some javascript book or whatever; you have to reference it in context.GliderMaven (talk) 19:45, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
In your opinion. However RS use this word, as a derivation post-Colbert, in the context of computer science.
Why are you against truthiness for CompSci appearing here, but you're OK with "Mathiness" being included? Andy Dingley (talk) 21:09, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm opposed to off-topic and unreferenced material appearing in any article, and I would hope you would be too, but apparently not. I hadn't noticed mathiness, but that appears indeed to be off-topic, and I have now tagged it. This contrasts with the pseudoword "trustiness", which is linked by the references.GliderMaven (talk) 22:42, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
@GliderMaven please show respect for your fellow editors. You say that CompSci-truthiness" is separate from Colbert-truthiness -- I expect you're probably right there. But CompSci "truthiness" is a notable topic, arguably more notable than Colbert-truthiness. I think having this article handle both uses is the best solution. An alternative would be to have two articles and a disambiguation page -- that feels like overkill to me, but you could make the case. To resolve this, please could you say: Where and how do you think CompSci "truthiness" should be covered? I think if we answer that, we'll fix this issue. Thanks. --winterstein (talk) 16:34, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
You have to find a place to put your edits. I don't know off-hand where it should go. Generally speaking where it's a 'usage' thing it should be in wiktionary, not wikipedia, or covered in a compsci specific article. It should not go in a non compsci article like this.GliderMaven (talk) 17:13, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Maybe add it to Boolean data type.GliderMaven (talk) 17:23, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Truthiness is the opposite of a strongly typed Boolean type. It is the working principle that a pragma of regarding some definable set of values as "truthy" is workable and reliable, even without a strictly defined type system. A "truthy" value is not necessarily True, and cannot (correctly) be compared to a Boolean True. It may be though, and is, assumed to stand in for one. This has much more in common with Colbert's logic than Boole's. Andy Dingley (talk) 19:04, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I am understating the case to say that I have considerable difficulty in understanding how anyone could ever seriously think that a reader would expect the programming-related definition of the word 'truthiness' in this article, as opposed to in boolean data type, an article which also covers C-related languages, which have no boolean type per se.GliderMaven (talk) 19:24, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
A page that states, "the effective identity between Booleans and integers is still valid for C programs." is dangerously wrong. People have been killed by that assumption. Andy Dingley (talk) 19:29, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
That whole article could be completely and dangerously wrong in the extreme, and it would still be the better place to put programming-related information than putting it in this completely unrelated article.GliderMaven (talk) 19:41, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Crockford refers to "truthy" in an article The Elements of JavaScript Style — Part Two: Idioms from 2005-09-21 ... Sept 21, just under a month before Colbert uses "truthiness", however Crockford does not use "truthiness" itself in that article. Sdp61 (talk) 06:27, 28 August 2016 (UTC)

Truthiness in particle physics[edit]

On a similar vein, I could swear we referenced "truthiness" as an alternative to "topness" in my particle physics class from older papers. Might anyone know more? SamuelRiv (talk) 20:39, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Off topic because wikipedia is not a dictionary; what are we going to do, add communism to the red article?GliderMaven (talk) 19:45, 3 August 2016 (UTC)

This reads like a Colbert Puff-Piece[edit]

Someone complained: "This article is not about the word "truthiness", it is about the way Colbert popularized it." I agree with that thrust. The article has the feel of being authored by a fawning Colbert fan(atic). Please keep in mind that words (like concepts) owe no loyalty to their origin, and in general that origin is only slightly of interest. For example, Colbert nor any other person has ANY authority regarding it's current, evolving definition and meaning. All words are defined by current usage, often with optional side-notes of any past or obsolete meanings. It is possible this word will quickly fade into obscurity, since face it, unless one is a Comedy Central or dictionary fan, one would naturally assume nearly the opposite definition...a fool's truth is a good joke but this is an unnatural word and definition.

1). Truthy: Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 Edition.
2). Truthy: Truthy, a. Truthful; likely; probable.
3). Verisimilitude: the appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true

In any case, Colbert seems to be repeatably, gratuitously mentioned (fawned over) in the article, to the point of distraction or confusion regarding the topic of "Truthiness." This needs to be cleaned up or moved to Stephen Colbert or elsewhere. The topic is the word or concept: Truthiness, this article ain't.
-- (talk) 06:15, 23 July 2012 (UTC) Doug Bashford

Most of the sources here are primary, not secondary. Such a vast account of the popularization of this word is not given anywhere else. DAVilla (talk) 06:45, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

If it wasn't for Colbert, we wouldn't have an article at all. It would be as notable (or less) as the word "truthfulness", which redirects to the pitifully stubby Honesty. The puff is the only thing holding this cookie together. InedibleHulk (talk) 17:05, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Besides, this is a Featured Article so your opinion is in the minority. Not to say it is a perfect article but merging it into another article is not a good idea. Fix don't destroy. (talk) 03:27, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Better link?[edit]

Not to add fuel to the fire, but here's a suggested link for ref5: kthxbai TheLastWordSword (talk) 17:26, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

Wikis generally aren't acceptable as citations, because they're not WP:Reliable sources.
What we want, in this case, is simply an uptodate link for the episode in question. I suspect this is the udpated link (but I don't live in the US and therefor cannot see it or confirm that it works).
That link is indeed the updated link, all the Colbert Report shows and clips were moved to his separate site. Also, it does work, at least where I am. Rubenpuma (talk) 05:57, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
If no link can be found, then a non-web-linked citation is also completely acceptable. –Quiddity (talk) 21:59, 25 May 2013 (UTC)


Why is there an article about a comedian's gag-word that went staler than a week-old donut immediately after a US election that happened years ago? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 77Mike77 (talkcontribs) 18:42, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

I concur, this is a very twee article and shouldn't exist independent of Steve Colbert. (talk) 02:28, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

The reason it's here is that WP:notability is considered permanent. If it was notable. it remains notable. Also the word continues in use afterwards. In some fields, such as software, the concept pre-dated Colbert but never had a good term for it. Once Colbert provided one, the label stuck and remains very much in use. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:54, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

That is an extremely lame defense. 77Mike77 (talk) 20:39, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Truthiness in programming[edit]

I've been wondering if it may be of interest to mention that "truthiness" has been in used colloquially in the context of some programming languages for quite a while. Its not easy to find reliable sources, but for instance the Mozilla Developer Network defines "truthy" as an adjective.

Gerold H (talk) 21:48, 22 December 2016 (UTC)

It's completely unrelated to this topic, but feel free to add it to programming-related articles if it's not already covered.GliderMaven (talk) 23:18, 22 December 2016 (UTC)

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