Saturday, July 29, 2017

Evasions, Fibs and Whoppers

We live in a post-truth era. Nothing is certain. You can believe whatever you want and the other guy is always wrong.

There was a time when I believed in ideals such as truth, justice and the American way. Now it's hard to tell what any of those things are. Truth used to be an absolute, but now it's gotten very subjective, distorted by preachers, politicians and propagandized by pundits and news outlets. Justice used to mean something. Now it just refers to which side won in court. Prosecutors ignore proof of a defendant's innocence, insisting that a jury's verdict outweighs everything else. As for the American way, there are simply too many factions with too many opinions. I won't even try to name all of the different isms.

Nothing can be counted on. Photographs and videos can be altered through Photoshop or even simple phone apps to create whatever false narrative the editor wants. Audio can be faked with Auto-Tune and other pitch shifters so that even those without an ability to sing can sound good. Fiction passes as non-fiction, legend passes for history, and even history can be tweaked to fit an agenda.

Social media tells me my favorite actor or musician has died, but the person in question insists it isn't true. Who do you trust, Facebook or some dead celebrity? Memes can be completely fake, but no matter how often they are fact checked, they come around again and convince a whole new group of people of their validity.

The Earth has been proven round any number of times over the centuries. By the time of Columbus, the "Round Earth" was an accepted fact. Now an entirely new flat Earth movement has taken hold, along with "proof" that the Moon landing was faked. Unfortunately, the truth of both positions seems clear from direct observation. Only scientists can figure out the truth of the matter and nobody trusts scientists anymore.

Global warming, which causes climate change, is another one of those elusive truths. There are too many subtleties. We can predict a lunar eclipse, but accurately predicting how many hurricanes we'll have, how much ice will melt and how high the seas will rise this year is impossible. Scientists can do computer models and pick the most likely one, but if they are wrong, then their credibility is shot in the eyes of those who are skeptical or have an agenda.

I could go on and on, but the point is, these days, the truth is what you choose to believe is the truth and no one will ever change your mind. If facts can be faked, then you believe anyone who supports what you already believed.

As Fox Mulder said on The X Files, "the truth is out there." Trust me. I only tell the truth, present the facts and support the American Way.

Stephen P.

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