“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. “
– George Orwell
“…, and the truth will set you free.”
– Jesus, John 8:32
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
– Polonius, Hamlet, I, iii
In a society that craves logical fallacies, utilizes half-truths and white lies, and endorses double-speak and propaganda, it is easy to see how those who do not have the time and energy to actually investigate every claim that appears in their sensory range to fall prey to what they may perceive.
There is a need to check sources, but when so many claims are being thrown around, it is hard to put in the effort to validate them all.
If people do not possess enough natural filters to mesh ludicrous falsities from facts, then they can become victim to being hoodwinked, duped, deceived, misled, cheated, and deluded among other things. And if people repeat something that is incorrect enough times, then it can become belief making speculation become gospel.
Check out this video.
Sorry. There is no substance to these people’s claims. But they live as those claims are truth and they based their decisions on them.
In America, we have many rights. We have the right to life, liberty, and happiness. We have the right to bear arms, vote, and gather.
We also have the right to be wrong.
But I think we also have the obligation to be diligent in looking for the truth. That means one does not need to automatically believe that what every snake oil salesman says is truth. And it reinforces the fact that we so need a strong public education system that not only prepares students with a knowledge/skill set, but allows them to be prepared to have those filters in place that allows them to sift the lies from something that may actually have validity.
Strong public education helps to curb society’s appetite for bullshit, and we certainly have had a smorgasbord of that very bullshit with the Fake news that has become a rather hot topic of late because of its role in the recent presidential election.
A November 24th report by Craig Timberg in the Washington Post, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” highlights how easy it seemed to be to allow falsities to become digested by an eager audience that did not have its filters in place.
“The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of Web sites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.
Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_propaganda-8pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory)
Wow! And I am sharing this blog post on Facebook. And just this morning, there was this on CNN.com.
Sure, you could claim that this is just “main-stream” media trying to douse the celebratory fires of Trump’s presidential victory, but where is the burden of proof?
If experts in a field are saying that something is happening, I am more apt to believe them because of their expertise. It’s a filter, so to speak. If 95+% of climate scientists say that global warming is happening, then I just might take their word for it. It’s just like what Tommy said in the iconic movie Tommy Boy: “You can stick your head up the bull’s ass yourself, but I’ll take the butcher’s word for it.” Therefore, if experts are saying that the use of fake news was prevalent in the 2016 election and had an effect on it, then I am apt to believe it.
The fact that fake news is a reality and actually dictates what many call the truth in and of itself is a strong indication that we need strong public schools Nothing screams more loudly for the need to have strong support for our public schools so that truth can be more easily obtained, more easily sensed, and more valued.
With the rise of technology, the sprawl of social media, and the exponential growth of knowledge, those in power have relegated our public schools into industrialized test-taking factories that simply measure how well students take tests. It has made critical thinking a national deficit. Nothing allows for the breeding of fake news more than that.
There’s nothing fake about the need for strong public schools.
And if you ever read Hamlet, you will realize that Polonius is an ass.