Truth be told.

That's the goal of a tenure-track professor at Ohio State University's Newark campus who's encouraging people to live by the adage, "honesty is the best policy."

As far as Gleb Tsipursky is concerned, honesty ought to be the only policy.

The Clintonville resident, whose family came to the United States from the former European principality of Moldavia in 1991 when he was 10, is the lead creator of the Pro-Truth Pledge, which is aimed at public figures and residents alike.

"Tired of living in a culture of lies, fake news, and alternative facts?" the website for the campaign asks. "The Pro-Truth Pledge reverses the tide of lies by calling on politicians, and everyone else, to commit to truth-oriented behaviors."

Tsipursky, 36, who came to Columbus in 2011 and works in the history department at Ohio State, said the Pro-Truth Pledge dates back two and a half years, when the presidential primary was in full swing and featured a "huge amount of deception."

"Not just simply spin, which was there before," he said.

It wasn't just merely telling lies on the campaign trail, but doubling down on those lies even in the face of ample proof of their falsehood, Tsipursky said.

"We have entered a brave new world where media is not as important in spreading information," he said.

Using social media, candidates can reach out to supporters directly, without their message going through the filter of news professionals, even with outright lies, Tsipursky said.

While Tsipursky said the campaign and subsequent presidency of Donald Trump served as a major impetus for the Pro-Truth Pledge, he feels the movement can be spread and sustained into the future.

"Pro-Truth Pledge has simply arisen right now because of a clear need, but we consider this to be like the environmental movement," Tsipursky said.

The pledge asks people to verify information before sharing it, cite sources, distinguish between opinions and facts, acknowledge and defend the truth even when disagreeing, and retract false statements. It also compels people to encourage these same actions in others.

Among those who have taken the pledge or plan to do so are Clintonville resident Miriam Bowers Abbott, who responded to an email from Tsipursky.

"I want to be responsible for sharing only information that is credible," she said. "I hope that it brings about a conscious change in behavior."

"I cannot recall how I heard about the pledge but when I checked it out I found it to be promising," Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol in Great Britain, wrote in an email. "Most of my research deals with misinformation and fake news and so on ... and I found that Gleb's initiative was pretty well argued and made some sensible references to what we know about people's honesty and how, when, and why they cheat. I think that the initiative may have some impact on the people who have signed the pledge.

"That said, there are some people who are not swayed by veracity or truthfulness, and who probably don't care whether something is true or false ... "

"I didn't hesitate to take the pledge," said Clark Donley, news director of WSNY-FM, who accepted the challenge after interviewing Tsipursky for a public-affairs program. "I think it's more important than ever, simply because we have a politician who doesn't seem to be ashamed of the fact that he's willing to take facts to twist them to his own ends. We expect that of politicians, but we don't expect them to admit it.

"I guess this culture of post-truth, fake news, this all leaves us as a society very vulnerable to being manipulated by people in power, not just in political power but powerful positions in media, powerful people in business."

"This pledge, for good leaders, is nothing more than a reminder that, 'Yeah, I need to think about everything I say,' " said Kip Morse, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, who has not yet signed the pledge but said he plans to.

"It's incredibly gratifying," Tsipursky said of the Pro-Truth Pledge. "Possibly the best part of it has been learning to be less skeptical of politicians."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1