We used to ask mom and dad, the librarian, or the teacher.
We either got our answer or were told to “look it up,” and we did.
Authorities were daily newspapers, reference books, ‘Year Books’ added to that tattered old encyclopedia set in the library, dictionaries, and Roget’s Thesaurus. All facts, readily available.
And opinion, well, if someone had an opinion, their argument only reached those within earshot of their soapbox, and they would defend their opinion against all comers. Those were the days.
Now everyone has a global-reach soapbox in our pocket with no legal requirement and in a society with a waning moral obligation to tell truths, to be fulsome, to be unbiased, and to be verifiable.
We are inundated with fact, opinion, argument, half-truths, data distortion, partisan rhetoric, and the narrowest views arguing we should not have a broad view – it comes at us from every form of credible and questionable media, facts are blurry, and everyone is in a hurry … and nearly everyone owns a soapbox.
Those of us living in long-term stably-governed countries have never experienced revolution or civil war. For that reason alone, refugees from war and revolution torn countries flock to us because we are their nirvana. Lately – not just in the U.S., not just about elections, viruses, and economies – but about privacy and human rights too, we can no longer take any stated truth at face value.
We live in the information age.
We live in the disinformation age.
We live in the post-truth bubble of noise …
There is no perfect country or government. We used to speak of trust and respect for those institutions of government and those who organized our civil society. Lately, it seems most things we used to count on are in question – they’ve been both shaken and stirred …
The world is not speeding toward the falls in a speedboat without brakes or a drogue chute.
Everybody wants to hear what they want to hear, but more than that, we want to be told the truth – and especially so when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
We’ve all seen it on TV, in movies – lie detector testing.
I think it’s time for a truth detector test.
Shouldn’t be hard – science is up to it.
If we can test millions of people daily and develop vaccines in record time, surely some whiz-kids can whip up an app and a tool to measure what we say, then flash a light on our nose: green for true, red for false, and flashing amber for ‘recalculating’ …
Having a casual relationship with a person is tricky enough, but only half as tricky as having a casual relationship with inexactness. Truth is not found by guessing, and falsehood is not solved by rounding up or down. It’s more than connecting a brain and a spine with the truth; it involves caring about the truth and caring to know what is true and what is not.