The sad fact is that the majority of people actually don’t want the truth.
At least, that is the conclusion from one of my favorite books “True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post Fact Society” and it speaks to a new service that is launching called Truthsquad, not to be mixed up with the “Right to Life” group Truthsquad.
It is a crowd sourced, but journalist validated service, that will join FactCheck.org (which appears to be going after Bachmann today) and PolitiFact (great place to see who is telling whoppers at a glance) and work in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity to provide those few of us who want to know when and how our politicians are lying to us.
Of course that somehow brings up the old joke: “How do you know when a politician is lying? When his or her lips are moving.”
Now I’m one of those people who naively believe we’d all be better off if we actually made informed decision, but the reality is, we simply aren’t wired that way. We, and I do mean all of us, tend to prefer living in a fantasy world. We are all too happy pointing the delusions of others, yet less than pleased when folks highlight our own. Let’s explore this phenomenon.
Politics: All Politicians are Crooks except My Guy
The approval rating for the US Congress is steadily dropping towards the single digits. Nevertheless, year after year the majority of politicians are reelected. The polls clearly indicate we are unhappy with the work they are doing as a collective body – but our election behavior indicates we insist on sticking by our guy or gal.
Now some of us may actually be represented by a decent politician who deserves to be reelected. However, it seems like the vast majority of us feel our guy is stellar, and given the dismal approval ratings, such a rosy scenario just can’t be true.
In essence, we look at government collectively and brand it “bad,” because we can’t be bothered to project such sentiments down to the individual. Even when a politician is caught behaving illegally and in an untrustworthy fashion we tend to reelect them. Because, for some reason, we believe in them even in the face of their convictions which suggests reality just doesn’t really matter.
In contrast, if someone is on the other side politically we’ll believe almost anything about them. Obama, who clearly is a US citizen and had been born in Hawaii, was pounded for years on his citizenship with all arguments that he had vetted tossed aside. Donald Trump even employed private investigators to conclude (after getting on the crazy train for awhile) what was always clear, Obama was a citizen. He was also branded a follower of Islam, which he isn’t, and even John McCain, his opponent in the last election, had to correct this misperception.
I’ve also heard folks argue that the Bush family helped plan and execute 9/11 in order to get to the gold in the basement of the Twin Towers. Of course, Michael Moore was on a tear for a while on how that family had effectively sold the country to the Saudis and even made a movie about it. Still, it wasn’t nearly as crazy as the Loose Change movie which proposes a massive 9/11 cover up and presents it as truth – but boasts fictional content in line with Transformers. Nevertheless, some people believe in it deeply, and the producers likely believe their findings as well.
This is always a dangerous subject. For example, I was being mentored by my great uncle and really enjoyed our meetings. I’d planned to go into law and in exchange for chatting about that he wanted to teach me about Christianity.
In one session, on Satan, and on the subject of him being the “Great Deceiver” I debated the point, evidently forgetting we were no longer talking about law which I could debate, but rather, religion – which I couldn’t. I argued that if Satan were the “Great Deceiver” wouldn’t the greatest deception be if he was actually Jesus Christ? Obviously, I’ve simplified the argument here, but the above-mentioned sessions ended my mentoring for good and is part of the reason I didn’t go into law practice.
There was only one truth: with religion the truth is irrelevant.
I think everyone should read “True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post Fact Society.” It even has a section on Mac fanbois and talks about how they won’t accept minor criticism about the platform. Still, the real point of the book isn’t how people try to deceive us, but rather, how we consistently deceive ourselves and even like it. If we can’t fix this basic defect, then properties like Truthsquad and FactCheck.org aren’t helping – but irritating by confusing us with facts we don’t want to know and would prefer others didn’t share.
Kind of like that scene in Matrix with the pills, we would make a different choice. As we look at the problems with government, or our own companies, in the end the problem may be that, and I’ll use a line from a different movie, “we can’t handle the truth.” So until we can fix that, life will be a bitch.
Something to think about as “F-You Washington” sparks a twitter revolution. Before we fix them, we have to fix ourselves.