Personal Message from Steve Monge

Why Invest in the Truth…

Do you want to 2020 US Presidential Election to be as filled with lies and deception as the 2016 one? If you’re reading this, you took the Pro-Truth Pledge, so I’m guessing you don’t.

And I don’t either. I’m the treasurer of Intentional Insights, the 501(c)(3) educational nonpartisan nonprofit that sponsors the Pro-Truth Pledge project, and I’m passionate about fighting lies and advocating for rational thinking and truth-seeking. That’s why I devote my time and money to supporting the pledge and the truthfulness that it promotes.

Do you believe, as I do, that as the 2020 election approaches in the US, it is vital to send politicians, journalists and public figures a clear message that truth matters to our democracy? I hope you’ll agree that wherever post-truth politicians win by lying, their victories pave the way for corruption and authoritarianism.

Peer-reviewed research shows as well as individual stories show that the pledge is effective in changing incentives for both private citizens and public figures – including politicians – to be more truthful. So I hope you’ll join me in supporting the pledge.

Your support helps by:

1. Bringing the Pro Truth Pledge to the attention of politicians, journalists and public figures, and giving them a meaningful incentive to sign it. We do this by coordinating outreach and training to volunteers, and crafting materials to make a compelling case for signing the pledge.

2. Motivating citizens to make truth an issue in the 2020 election (as well as upcoming elections in other countries). Aware citizens can raise truthfulness as an issue in town hall meetings, asking candidate if they took the pledge. We also intend to focus our efforts on creating and supporting student groups and building advocates for the pledge on campuses that will inspire the next generation to make truth a shared value. This will counteract the widespread cynical view that “post truth” politics as inescapable.

3. Promoting truthfulness and the pledge on social media. We do this through an active campaign of seeding and spreading memes, videos and articles on the value of truthfulness online. Motivating people to fact-check and avoid spreading “fake news” prevents the destructive effect of online disinformation campaigns.

Today, the Pro-Truth Pledge costs about $4,000 per month in operating costs. This is the minimum budget to maintain the websites, oversee outreach activities, coordinate volunteers, and provides the relevant administrative support.

Currently, the passion and financial commitment of the pledge founders, Gleb Tsipursky and Agnes Vishnevkin keep the organization afloat. They have been providing much of the required financial resources in recent months to keep the Pro-Truth Pledge going. However, this is not sustainable, as their budget is running low. We need your support

If you believe in the goals of the Pro-Truth Pledge, then it is time for you to join the Pro-Truth Movement with a monthly membership ($20), a one-time donation, or whatever you can afford to contribute. Are YOU willing to put truth back into politics and civic life? You have the power to do so by donating now.

Truthfully Yours,

Steve Monge

P.S. Your donation is tax deductible in the US, and I hope you join the pledge as a member by donating right now

Will Democratic Presidential Candidates Be Truthful?

(photo credit: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)

Should the US President be able to lie with impunity to the American people?

If you say “NO!” the time to act is now! Help make sure the next US President is accountable to the standard of truthfulness described in the simple 12 truth-oriented behaviors of the Pro-Truth Pledge.

It’s not an impossible goal. After all, several members of the US Congress, dozens of state legislators, and hundreds of other politicians have committed publicly to being truthful by taking the Pro-Truth Pledge. This list includes many Republican and Democratic politicians in the US, as well as members of third parties in the US and other politicians around the globe.

They did so because readers like you approached them to encourage them to take the pledge. That includes in person at candidate forums in town halls, or virtually through phone calls, email, social media, website contact pages, and other means. We have clear guidelines for you to use on how to pitch politicians on the pledge, as well as public figures in general, and you can do so on your own anytime.

All the politicians who took the pledge are now being held accountable to their commitment by the many private citizens who took the pledge. Their reputations will suffer significantly if they’re caught making false statements and aren’t willing to admit they’re wrong. Research shows that reputational penalties for lying are effective in making politicians more truthful. Indeed, we know that the

The key is to approach politicians about the pledge when it can make the biggest difference to their political career: during highly competitive election campaigns. After all, taking the pledge is valuable for a politician as a sign of a strong public commitment to truthfulness. Politicians get the most benefits from making this commitment when their potential constituents are paying attention during elections. It’s especially helpful for politicians to take the pledge when other candidates in the race haven’t taken it, since the pledge-taking candidate can then differentiate themselves as the one publicly committed to truthfulness.

That’s why it’s a particularly good time to approach the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination to run for US President. There are over 20 candidates as of the time of publication. Each is struggling to differentiate themselves from their opponents. Only one has taken the pledge so far, one of the front-runners – Beto O’Rourke. Wisely, he did so on video, as you can see below.

While you can approach Democratic candidates individually, you can also be part of a team effort to get them to take the pledge. If you’d like to be part of this team effort, fill out the volunteering survey below. We’ll also be contacting any Republican candidates, though because the primary campaign among Republicans is very unlikely to be competitive, we will be focusing the vast majority of our time on the competitive Democratic presidential primary.

By encouraging Democratic presidential candidates to take the Pro-Truth Pledge, you will maximize the chance that the next US President will speak the truth to the American people. Help roll back the “Post-Truth” era of lies and deception!

Calling All Conservatives Dedicated to the Truth

Truth by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Calling all conservative signers in America!

The media often stereotype conservatives as lacking integrity, and being unconcerned about facts. They’re wrong, though—conservatives have a great deal of integrity, and now it’s time for us to prove it together.

How, you ask? By getting more conservatives to take the Pro-Truth Pledge.

You can help by joining a project dedicated to getting all truth-oriented conservatives to take the pledge. Fill out the form for this project at this link.

You don’t have to wait for the project to get started, though! Reach out to your friends to tell them about the Pledge and how you feel about it. If you know someone who would tell all their other friends about the Pro-Truth Pledge, you can do a lot of good by letting them know.

When you took the Pledge, you showed that you have the courage and integrity to stand up for the truth. You joined a supportive community which shares that courage and integrity. There’s a lot more honest, hard-working folks out there who are looking for a community like this one. Let’s bring them on board!

Their Lips Are Moving But They’re Not Lying!

Caption: Photo of surprised boy. (Credit: Ben White on Unsplash)

Celebrating politicians who are bucking the post-truth trend and winning.

This year, many of us watched with pride as Beto O’Rourke, a Pro-Truth Pledge taker, nearly upset Ted Cruz in a race previously considered safe for Cruz. However, the Pro-Truth movement is much bigger than this one notable race. By our count, there are 78 Pledge takers who won elections in 2018!

Let’s take a moment to celebrate all of the successful politicians who are willing to go on record as supporting the Pro-Truth Pledge and commit themselves to the accountability that entails.

Click on this link to view a spreadsheet (sorted by state) listing these political winners.

Has the Pro-Truth Pledge helped these candidates, or is it just that great candidates are the kind of people who don’t hesitate to embrace the truth? We’d all like to think that the Pro-Truth Pledge helps, but having taken the pledge ourselves, we’ve got to be careful about making unfounded claims, so let’s think about this together…

During the O’Rourke/Cruz race, several newspapers took the time to publish editorials mocking O’Rourke for taking the Pro-Truth Pledge. That alone demonstrates that people involved in the media and politics are beginning to notice the Pro-Truth Pledge and it creates added publicity for candidates.

There’s a marketing adage that all publicity is good publicity… However, is honoring truth actually a popular position with typical constituents? The mocking editorials indicate that several right-leaning Texas newspaper editors thought otherwise. Backing their opinion, an NBC news survey found that within the significant (22%) group of Republicans who think the President regularly lies, 56% still approve of him.

So within the GOP, acknowledged lying is not a barrier to political success. Among Democrats, it is clear that of the 94% who believe the president lies, none approve of him. However, there is no clear evidence that lying is the primary cause of the low approval in that group.

Bottom line: Truth isn’t a clear winner on the right, and we can’t legitimately claim to know it is important for the left. This may seem disappointing, but there is no need for our organization to exist if there is no need to change attitudes. This is our motivation.

The important takeaway from polls like this is that they underscore the need to reach out to our friends, particularly those on the right. Make connections, find common ground, and celebrate truth in the places where it matters most.

Pro-Truth Pledge Volunteer of the Month – February 2019



Noah Heck - Volunteer of the Month February 2019

The Pro-Truth Pledge is a grassroots project made possible by the efforts of volunteers around the world.

Some of the volunteers focus their efforts on external activities, such as gathering signatures, giving presentations, running local PTP chapters, and otherwise promoting the Pro-Truth Pledge. Other volunteers work behind the scenes assisting with website maintenance, research, data entry, content creation, and a variety of other tasks.

This month we are pleased to acknowledge Noah Heck for his contribution to the success of the Pro-Truth Pledge project. 

Noah Heck, Website Volunteer in Twin Falls, Idaho

I believe the only way to effect lasting change is by addressing the world as it truly is, without bias or prejudice. The Pro-Truth Pledge’s simple, scientifically backed process for framing conversations around the truth results in dialogue that can lead to real, sustainable, effective problem solving.

I’ve been working on processes to maintain the custom plugins for the PTP website and working to create new ways to allow the project to engage with the public. We’ve made it easier for visitors to search for and find information about Pledge Takers they’re interested in, and our new Media plugin will make it easier to share with others the impact the project is having around the world.

The Pro-Truth Pledge has the capability of influencing every possible aspect of our world: Healthcare, Education, Government, Science, Climate, Social Causes. Without looking through prejudiced eyes at any one impact area, I fully believe the PTP can help drive positive change in all of these areas resulting in us moving forward toward the world we all deserve.

PS: If you are interested in joining the Pro-Truth Pledge volunteer team, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you soon.



Pro-Truth Pledge Volunteer of the Month – December 2018

The Pro-Truth Pledge is a grassroots project made possible by the efforts of volunteers around the world.

Some of the volunteers focus their efforts on external activities, such as gathering signatures, giving presentations, running local PTP chapters, and otherwise promoting the Pro-Truth Pledge. Other volunteers work behind the scenes assisting with website maintenance, research, data entry, content creation, and a variety of other tasks.

This month we are pleased to acknowledge Jeff Dubin for his contribution to the success of the Pro-Truth Pledge project. 

Jeff Dubin, PTP Activist in Columbus, Ohio

While I had been concerned for a long time about blatant dishonesty in politics and media, the 2016 election was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is enormous danger posed by the precedent of a candidate so willing to lie, over and over again, and even contradict himself, being able to reach the highest office. When the idea of the PTP was introduced to me, it made sense immediately.

In August, I traveled to Atlanta to table at DragonCon, an enormous convention for sci-fi, gaming, comic and animation fans, etc. There I was able to get out the message about the Pro-Truth Pledge and to obtain numerous pledge signatures. By securing thousands of individual pledge signatures, we can both press public figures to sign and hopefully influence the signers’ social media behavior. One signer made a point of saying she would be much more careful before sharing politically charged content.

I try to practice what the PTP preaches by acknowledging, whether verbally or online, by honoring, sharing, and encouraging the truth. I look forward to there being increased scrutiny on public figures who refuse to take the Pro-Truth Pledge. I hope that they will be repeatedly interrogated as to why they are not willing to commit to adhere to facts.

PS: If you are interested in joining the Pro-Truth Pledge volunteer team, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you soon.

A Sage Decision by SAGE Publishing to Support the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Logo of SAGE Publishing

The Pro-Truth Pledge is glad to announce the first institutional funder supporting this project, SAGE Publishing!

The pledge has already made a notable public impact, with a series of public figures, including high-profile ones such as members of US Congress and state legislatures as well as prominent organizations and globally-known intellectuals taking the plunge. However, to make a truly profound impact beyond the circle of initial supporters requires getting funding to promote the Pro-Truth Pledge to a broad audience, both from individual donors and from institutional donors.

The innovative nature of the Pro-Truth Pledge – an approach informed by combining extensive behavioral science research with crowdsourcing – means that traditional institutional donors who support initiatives to fight misinformation and protect democracy have chosen not to fund it. This decision is unfortunate, as we have research showing the effectiveness of the pledge in changing people’s behaviors to be more truthful.

Fortunately, SAGE Publishing – a global independent publisher committed to social science – was inspired by the pledge’s use of behavioral science to overcome problems of misinformation. SAGE is a non-traditional funder of such efforts, and its commitment to social science research, combined with its flexibility and dedication to choosing the most effective strategies, caused it to extend sponsorship to the pledge.

This investment is part of a broader portfolio, as SAGE has been involved with a number of recent efforts to promote truth-oriented behavior including. This includes publishing new resources that promote critical thinking, such as: Tom Chatfield’s Critical Thinking: Your Guide to Effective Argument, Successful Analysis and Independent Study; supporting MisinfoCon DC, which brought together a group of people to identify policy and regulatory methods of fighting misinformation; and sponsoring Public Editor, a high-scale content analysis tool that involves digital volunteers in multi-layered, simultaneous assessments of news articles.

The Pro-Truth Pledge is glad to have our first institutional funder, and applauds the sage decision by SAGE!

Pro-Truth Pledge Volunteer of the Month – September 2018

Volunteer of the Month - Victor Almeida Ivo

The Pro-Truth Pledge is a grassroots project made possible by the efforts of volunteers around the world.

Some of the volunteers focus their efforts on external activities, such as gathering signatures, giving presentations, running local PTP chapters, and otherwise promoting the Pro-Truth Pledge. Other volunteers work behind the scenes assisting with website maintenance, research, data entry, content creation, and a variety of other tasks.

This month we are pleased to acknowledge Victor Almeida Ivo for his contribution to the success of the Pro-Truth Pledge project. He is a great example of reliability, consistency, flexibility, and teamwork that fuels the Pro-Truth Pledge.

Victor Almeida Ivo, PTP Activist in Ceará, Brazil

I think that by spreading the importance of the truth, people will not be swayed by illogical ideas or ideologies. Once everyone accepts the reality we live in, we can finally debate properly about our concepts and create a better world. Also, the impacts of this new kind of mentality would be very positive. I can especially see this in Brazil since we really miss honesty in politics. We have constant corruption scandals, and with a pledge to press the politicians the situation could be reverted one day.

I am the coordinator of the activities related to PTP in my state, Ceará. My main function is to organize the local volunteers to work in activities related to the pledge. The volunteers are divided into different areas, some of them work by gathering signatures, others by working on social media, and in order to understand the tasks I delegate to them I have to do a little bit of everything myself. Managing volunteers and spreading the ideas of the PTP not only increased my social skills, but also helped me to better understand the pledge. 

I am very excited about the potential of this project. I want the Pro-Truth Pledge to make people reflect on the role of truth in social relations and politics. I want news organizations and people who spread misleading information to be identified, and I want positive recognition for those who fight against lies and misinformation. I believe that this project can truly pressure politicians to be more honest and lead society to a brighter future.

PS: If you are interested in joining the Pro-Truth Pledge volunteer team, fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you soon.

Pro-Truth Pledge Translated to Polish

Przysięgam dołożyć wszelkich starań, aby:

Głosić prawdę

  • Weryfikować: Weryfikować czy informacje są zgodne z prawdą, przed ich zaakceptowaniem i udostępnianiem.
  • Równoważyć: Dzielić się całością prawdy, nawet jeśli nie wspiera moich poglądów
  • Cytować: Dzielić się źródłami informacji, aby inni mogli zweryfikować podane przeze mnie informacje
  • Wyjaśniać: Rozróżniać fakty od moich osobistych opinii

Szanować prawdę

  • Uznawać: uznawać prawdziwe informacje udostępnianie przez innych, nawet jeśli nie zgadzam się z nimi w innych obszarach.
  • Ponownie oceniać: sprawdzać ponownie moje informacje jeśli są przedmiotem dyskusji, wycofywać je w momencie kiedy nie mogę ich zweryfikować.
  • Bronić: bronić ludzi którzy są przedmiotem ataku za dzielenie się zweryfikowanymi informacjami, nawet jeśli się z nimi nie zgadzam.
  • Dostosowywać: dostosować moje opinie i działania, zgodnie ze zweryfikowanymi informacjami.

Wspierać prawdę

  • Naprawiać: prosić o wycofanie informacji zweryfikowanych negatywnie przez sprawdzone źródła. Nawet jeśli osoby, które o to proszę to moi znajomi.
  • Edukować: prosić otaczających mnie ludzi o zaprzestanie korzystania z nierzetelnych źródeł informacji, nawet jeśli te źródła wspierają moje opinie.
  • Ustępować: Zauważać, że w momencie dyskusji, eksperci w danej dziedzinie mają najpewniej dokładniejsze informacje.
  • Honorować: Honorować tych ludzi, którzy wycofali nieprawdziwe informacje i dostosowali swoje poglądy do prawdy.

Texas Newspapers Criticizing Politicians for Signing the Pro-Truth Pledge

Caption: Liar paradox, two-sentence version (created by article author)

Amarillo Globe-News, a Texas newspaper, recently published an article criticizing the Pro-Truth Pledge. The article was subsequently republished with minor edits in two other Texan newspapers, Denton Record Chronicle and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. It argues both that the Pro-Truth Pledge is unnecessary because politicians should be expected to be honest whether or not they signed it, and that the Pro-Truth Pledge is ineffective because politicians will always lie when it suits them regardless of whether they signed it.

The article also specifically mentions Texas politicians who have signed the Pledge, including Beto O’Rourke, Greg Sagan, Andrew Morris and Anjelita Cadena.

All three newspapers published the article without a byline, presenting it as their official opinion.

Below are some quotes from the article, organized by the version of the article they are quoted from. Most of them appear in all three versions, unedited, but there are some exceptions.

Amarillo Globe-News version

“El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and media obsession who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz, has signed the PTP. Locally, Greg Sagan of Amarillo, a Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, has also signed the PTP.”
“The truth is this – people should not make a show of doing something they should be doing anyway. In this case, shouldn’t politicians tell the the truth without having to sign some silly document stating they are pledging to tell the truth?”
“There is part of the PTP which seems encouraging – the part about disseminating misinformation on social media. However, it is difficult to see what anyone or anything can do about restoring honesty and integrity to social media, much less the Internet.”
“However, it just seems a tad absurd for elected officials – and those who want to be elected officials – to sign a document stating they will be truthful. Shouldn’t this be assumed?”
“The truth is this – politicians are human beings. And human beings, with very few and rare exceptions, do what benefits them, especially if wealth, power and authority are involved. And if that means telling a lie, so be it.”

Denton Record Chronicle version

“[Note: Among those in North Texas who have signed the pledge are Texas House of Representatives District 64 candidate Andrew Morris and Anjelita Cadena, chair-elect of the Denton County Democratic Party.]”
“El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and media obsession who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz, has signed the PTP.”
“The truth is this — people should not make a show of doing something they should be doing anyway. In this case, shouldn’t politicians tell the truth without having to sign some silly document stating they are pledging to tell the truth?”
“However, it just seems a tad absurd for elected officials — and those who want to be elected officials — to sign a document stating they will be truthful. Shouldn’t this be assumed?”
“The truth is this — politicians are human beings. And human beings, with very few and rare exceptions, do what benefits them, especially if wealth, power and authority are involved. And if that means telling a lie, so be it.”
“There is part of the PTP that seems encouraging — the part about disseminating misinformation on social media. However, it is difficult to see what anyone or anything can do about restoring honesty and integrity to social media, much less the internet.”

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal version

“El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and media obsession who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz, has signed the PTP.”
“The truth is this – people should not make a show of doing something they should be doing anyway. In this case, shouldn’t politicians tell the the truth without having to sign some silly document stating they are pledging to tell the truth?”
“However, it just seems a tad absurd for elected officials – and those who want to be elected officials – to sign a document stating they will be truthful. Shouldn’t this be assumed?”
“The truth is this – politicians are human beings. And human beings, with very few and rare exceptions, do what benefits them, especially if wealth, power and authority are involved. And if that means telling a lie, so be it.”
“There is part of the PTP which seems encouraging – the part about disseminating misinformation on social media. However, it is difficult to see what anyone or anything can do about restoring honesty and integrity to social media, much less the Internet.”