Welcome to the post-truth world! – David Osorio
We live in a world where truth has become secondary to feelings, and to people deciding what is considered fact versus fiction. Say whatever you will about any controversial topic, the environment, politics, economics, or social issues. Then just construct a simple tweet, maybe a short thread on Twitter, explaining why you believe what you believe. Sit back, and wait for the reaction. You may find allies, but the normative, at least on Twitter, is that you won’t. Those that may agree with you will be too afraid to agree simply because they are afraid of being cancelled.
This is our world though and to be afraid to state what you believe to be true, is an unconscionable affect of, well, social media and those that attempt to own the conversation and not allow any dissenting opinions or facts. We often here, That’s your truth, not mine. Has anyone stopped and considered what that means? How ridiculous, that sounds just on it’s surface? Do people today really believe that there is more than one truth on any controversial topic? Does the idea that a consensus means something is true, true?
The quote from David above comes from a tweet exchange we had earlier. It’s based on this mea culpa from Michael Shermer concerning an author that they had published in Skeptic Magazine and Skeptic Online whose credentials were contrived. In other words, false. That brought to mind another hoax, and yes, you’ve guessed it: The Grievance Studies hoax as perpetrated by three people I have a lot of repsect for: Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian. Remember that? They submitted some twenty “academic” papers to various academic publications. Seven were actually published. One of those took a chapter from Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and substituted for Jews. Yep, instantly published without anyone on the staff at the journal bothering to vet either the authors, or the actual text of the article. Proof of David’s statement above.
Truth is what we want it to be, not what it actually is and that’s troubling not only for academics, but for journalism in the broader view. All we desire to hear is what we want to hear. My friend, Lee Jussim, a psychologist, recently tweeted a blog post he authored in Psychology Today on confirmation bias and how to recognize it. I encourage my readers to click this link. In my opinion, we all exhibit this to a degree. Guilty. But the difference for me is that I’m willing to hear and consider what other people have to say. Are you? Wait! Just because someone has a different opinion with facts I’ve never read or heard, should I automatically believe? Well, no. Are there others that agree? Do they have an agenda? We have to look , discern for ourselves, what may be true or not.
We have an obligation, if only to ourselves, to vet information that we receive from any outlet. The press today has the lowest approval ratings of anytime in my life. Academia has similar polling numbers because they have, in the most part, given in to the madness we are all seeing today. What’s the endgame? Don’t believe what you hear or read. That’s sad isn’t it? When Universities, who do the greater of scientific and social science research can’t be believed, and that we have to access sources outside the government and those we pay to deliver us unbiased information, well, we’re doomed in my opinion.
And so we now live in a world where truth is not something we can depend on, but what others decide for us it should be at any moment in time. That’s right, truth today, is not truth tomorrow or next week. It’s a noun constantly being redefined based on who is using it for their own purpose. Who’s to blame? A part belongs to our education system where academics come to a conclusion, then test the same to prove that which they already believe. The media is next because these people will them propagate that same nonsense as being science. When it’s not science, it’s politics or social policy that these same media mavens, these guardians of the truth, will decide it’s i our own best interest to accept whatever it is they decide, this week, we need to know.
Ultimately, we as individuals are to blame. We’ve lost the ability to digest information and critically analyze what we read or hear because of our inherent, or learned biases. We are unable to even have a conversation on certain topics simply because, if we happen to disbelieve the mainstream view, we will somehow be culturally cancelled. We can and should do better. We should challenge, intellectually, what we’re told we believe. What we’re told is the consensus opinion. A consensus of who? Prove your position or sit down and shut up. Please stop telling me “there’s a study” when a single study doesn’t prove anything. When we stop redefining truth to fit our agenda, whatever that may be, we may be on the road to a world where the word will actually mean something.