The truth

“The truth is what enough people are willing to believe.” – Donald Trump, 2016

“The truth is what I tell you to believe.” – Osama Bin Laden, 2001

“The truth is whatever I think will appeal to your worst instincts and get me re-elected.” – John Howard, 2003

“The truth is something I just made up.” – Pauline Hanson, 2016

“The truth is out there” – X Files, 1998

Only one of the above quotes is correctly attributed. You would certainly think that in an era where facts can be checked quite readily and accurately on the public record, that the tendency to believe lies would dissipate. Reasonable people would check their facts and then overturn their misconceptions. They would say, “oh, my mistake, Mexicans are not all rapists. Oh, my mistake, the climate is warming. Oh, my mistake, Muslims are not all terrorists. Oh, my mistake, asylum-seeker deaths at sea have been stopped.”

So why do people continue to believe lies? I hate to say it, but we want to believe whatever supports our prejudices. We wait for it. We hear something on TV and then the little voice in our head says, “I knew it! Did you hear that? It’s what I’ve been saying all along, there is an international Jewish conspiracy, there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll, etc.”

We seek out the truth by searching for “facts” that support what we want to believe. We listen to those who will tell us the lies we want to hear. We listen to those with contrary views only to pick holes in their arguments, like “Tim Flannery said the dams would dry up, but we are in the middle of a flood, so all climate science is a lie.”

Both sides of politics pull the same trick. Manus Island is a “hell-hole.” Asylum-seekers in Nauru are being tortured.

So, let’s just calm down a little. Keep that little voice under control. Think about what we think is true, check our facts and realign our thoughts based on those facts. You can do it and say,

“I believe this idea to be true because I have checked it against all available information and it is more plausible than any alternative explanations.”  – David Pearce, 2016

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