Opinion Editorial




 by James Strauss


Imagine that you are flying aboard a twin prop supply aircraft and one of the engines develops a problem and smoke is streaming down the fuselage. There’s nobody else aboard, by the way, and you are the pilot. You can either risk landing the aircraft with one bad engine, which would probably work, or you can take the serviceable parachute sitting in the co-pilot’s seat next to you and bail out. If you bail out, you know you have more than enough money in your accounts to buy another plane of exactly the same kind, and in the same condition. What do you do? If you have a brain, you bail out.

And that’s what is happening today within every culture on the planet. People are bailing out left and right, because of fact checking.

Fact checking today, is where people go online to see if what they’ve been told by a particular person or group can be confirmed by information available on the internet. Fact checking is well understood by everyone exposed to the new information technology explosion. The effects of fact checking are not so well known, or understood. In fact, the people selecting to bail out are cloaking, as much as possible, the impact of their actions. What are the fact-checked people, who have been determined to be in error, or telling out and out falsehoods (according to data on the Internet), doing? They are bailing out, on the people who fact-checked them. They are doing it quietly, and without fanfare, and so are you. Nobody, however, is admitting this. Most people who dump other people over these often un-discussed, and seemingly small slights, won’t talk about it. As this new technology allows ever deepening penetration into the social order of man, humanity has to increasingly adjust to the possibility of having to live with the truth, and full exposure, all the time, and in every situation. The results may well be that the race of man will become much more silent, less mythically based, and therefore potentially less imaginative, and less able to creatively invent itself into the future.

Last Monday there was an intense discussion about some wording used by a famous author with respect to the Napoleon Hill book Think and Grow Rich. One of the people discussing this declared, in front of a group of people in a local coffee shop, that he was going to fact-check what I’d said because he thought I was in error. That particular individual was wrong. The quote I used was correct, but the effect on me was exactly the same as if I’d been wrong. I bailed out on that guy the instant he admitted that he was fact-checking me, simply because he was doing that. I bailed out of that damaged relationship the same way I would have bailed out of that airplane. Why take a chance on a crash landing? Why take a chance that the next time that that individual could be correct, and I might experience public embarrassment? I don’t have to take that risk, anymore than the mythical pilot of that aircraft, so why endure it?

In this new millennium, it isn’t fact-checking alone that is causing this restructuring of how society receives and responds to information. It is merely emblematic of what today’s easy revelations of truth are doing. Humanity still lives in a mythical world made up of mostly invented history, fictional present and imagined future. Reality has always trailed behind man’s perception of the phenomenal world he has created, with some reactionary distance. That distance has narrowed with the advent of new technologies. Truth has come home to roost in the present. And it’s not going well for man’s dependence on the phenomenal world, or the continuance of the species as it has known itself to be. For example, when a person answers a cell phone call, while in your presence, it is because that phone call is judged to be more important than his or her interaction with you. When a person leaves the room to take a cellphone call, it is because they want you to be excluded from the conversation, and hence your importance is diminished.

When a person fact-checks you, in your presence, the mere act of doing so diminishes your importance, by evidencing doubt in you, and/or what you said. None of these acts, although easily and deftly explained away, can outweigh the simple fact that you are being shown a truth that you cannot ignore, and are unlikely to accept the explanation for. The person on the cell phone, or fact-checking you, may explain that it’s too loud to talk on the phone in your presence or it’s important for the fact-checker to confirm your accuracy and knowledge, but the truth will not escape you. And you will jettison yourself from that ‘aircraft’ of life, if you are all about survival. And we are all about survival.

There is no such thing as ‘trust with verification’. There is trust, or there is verification. The combining of those three words was invented a few years back, just as “disremembering”, was created by the staff of President Richard Nixon. Everyone knows that requiring verification is not trusting. The phrase is used to hide the fact that someone does not trust, just as “disremembering” has become an accepted word for lying.   Human beings live in mythology, not in truth. Yet all humans are taught from birth to lie consistently about that life-giving fact. Attorneys, judges, cops, priests, sales people and social workers, all know about the wholesale nature of lying. You, as a private person, however, may read this article, and turn to the person you’re with, and declare that the article is wrong, and that you never lie. Only yesterday in downtown Lake Geneva, someone said, in front of a whole group of people, the idiotic words you and I both have heard so many times: “from these lips a lie has never passed.”

If you get nothing else from the reading of this article, it should be a sense of relief. You are human, and therefore you are a liar. And no matter how great or small your lies, or your reasons for lying, you now know that you are, indeed, not the only one.

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