Friday, September 7, 2012

What's making your head swim

I’ve heard a fairly regular refrain lately from friends who are sickened and confused by the race for the White House.  I don’t think it’s the race itself that’s doing laps in their head, but more the deluge of misinformation.

It's clear that the politicians have figured out a formula - that lies reach way more people than the subsequent fact-checking and revelations of those lies.  Lie and a million people hear you - get caught lying and only a tenth of them find out.  This isn't always true, as in the case of Tiger Woods, but it seems so with presidential campaigns.

Of course, the media is brutally complicit in letting the lies of the two party agendas trump the truth.  In fact, if you were to read the Huffpost and then Drudge, you’d swear they were talking about two different countries.  Same with Foxnews vs MSNBC.  All media outlets have agendas, and if you believe what they say, you do so at the expense of the truth. 

So where is the truth?

It’s in objectivity and research.  Unfortunately, when we rely on media to do the research for us - as is supposed to be their job - we risk never finding the truth.  The truly objective media is a dying breed and many journalists will either not have enough time to do proper research, are under the influence of laziness, or will bend/omit their research to fit their parent company’s bias. 

Of course, people are more inclined to believe what they want to believe, and not believe what they don’t want to.

It’s easy to question what we DO NOT want to believe.  In seeking truth, however, it is more important to question what we DO want to believe.  

If we accept the Sam Harris definition of lying as intentionally making someone believe something that isn’t entirely consistent with reality, then most journalists, as well as both prez campaigns, are being paid to lie in favor of either their conservative or liberal agenda. And they’re often doing it viciously.

That vicious lying leaves a bad taste in our mouths and a sick feeling in our stomach.  And what's making your head swim - and so many other peoples’ - is that you know you’re not being told the whole truth.  So unless you're willing to do the research yourself, you’re falling back on believing either what you want to, or what comes closest to what you think the truth is.  But you can’t shake free that gurgling in your brain that’s saying “I wonder if there’s more to this story than I’m being told.”  

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