Sunday 9 February 2020

Nerd Church - The Truth?

Caution: This is one of those existential crises type posts with more questions than answers! Enjoy! 😅

What is the truth?

How can we tell what the truth is, in this supposedly 'post-truth,' 'alternative facts,' world?

Does the truth even matter any more?

Let's break this down, dearest nerdlets.

The Truth...? title image. White text on plain black background.

So, what is the truth?

The truth is something that's real, right?

But how do we define that? Is it something 100% rooted in fact? Something for which there is incontrovertible proof?

Or do emotional truths count as true as well?

People may consider God as true - there is no incontrovertible evidence for the existance of God.

But if God is true to you, who am I to argue?

In the same vein, gender or sexual identities can't be 'proved' to anyone outside yourself.

...Because other people can't feel what you feel.

But that doesn't make it untrue.

(The opposite. Your identity is yours to define. Don't let other people tell you otherwise.)

How can we tell if something is true?

Thanks to 'post-truth,' 'alternative facts,' and whatever else the Trumpkin has come up with, it can be difficult to navigate, in this world of ours, what is true and what is not.

And in a world of fake news -

(another favourite saying of the Trumpkin, though he has a tendency to use it hypocritically,)

- where you, me, and the kid next door have the ability to doctor photos, or spread misinformation, can we trust anything to be true?

And, in this mass confusion, people find themselves in an unbelievable situation - say. where a US president escapes removal despite what appears to be incontrovertible evidence against him.

When evidence is no longer 'good enough' to prove the truth, how do we protect the truth? 

Does the truth even exist any more?

Plus, sometimes the framing of some news stories makes them seem other than what they are.

(Which is why it's so important to teach basic media literacy, imho)

CONTENT WARNING: I'm going to use a hypothetical example here, which contains the following: murder, drugs, gangs, biased press reporting. 

Feel free to skip to the next section, titled 'Does the truth even matter any more?' 

'Give me cherry bombs and gasoline / Debutantes in surgery / And the headline / 'Legalize the truth!' - Green Day, Revolution Radio; graffiti style font, punk stars in pink against a purple background, a radio, and a megaphone with loads of symbols in circle - e.g. an egg timer. Basically it looks like Kawaii and punk had a baby, and this is that unholy child.

If I wrote a news story about a young man being murdered, (sadly a fairly common occurence,) then what would the headline be?

Let's imagine a young man - let's call him Jack.

For the time being we'll say that the police haven't released a picture, or details of his racial or ethnic identity, so the framing regarding that - which is an issue for another time - is not at question here, though in many cases it would definitely be.

  • So Jack is 19 years old. 

  • He was killed in the park - possibly while attempting to buy drugs. 

  • A 21 year old known dealer, and known friend of Jack's, is in custody on suspicion of Jack's murder.

  • Some of the local people are saying both boys are gang members, some are saying that only the 21 year old is.

I could write two headlines for this same story - and hopefully you'll see the difference in framing. 

Remember, they're for exactly the same story, reporting on Jack's death:

'Tragic Teen's Loss Devastates Family'


'Gang Links in Drug-Deal Murder Investigation'

See the difference?

...Is either true? Is either lying?

How can we tell which headline to trust?

Does the truth even matter any more?

Post-Trumpkin's impeachment (...and there are fruit & veg puns in there somewhere which I'll let you figure out for yourselves,) does anyone even care what the truth is?

Because Trumpkin will claim black is blue and up is down, and at least 25% of Americans'll probably end up walking on their hands (I really hope I'm being harsh on Americans here, but I fear I may be being kind...)

I mean, between the flat-earthers, the anti-vaxxers, and the climate change deniers, it doesn't seem like 'the truth' is high on humanity's priority list, you know?

In fact, in America telling the truth may even get you sacked.

So, should we just give up and let people believe utter falsehoods? 

Who are we to say what's false anyway? We don't even know how define truth!

Well, the truth is fickle. It's rarely straight-forward, and often requiring of context.

But there are some cases where things are clear-cut.

...And shouldn't we have a duty to defend the truth when it is clear, and to investiagate it when it isn't...?

Or should we take the easy route? Should we stop trying to understand others, and take things at face value?

Um... no.

Because unquestioningly following the views of those in power - whether politically or societally - is how people get hurt. 

Propaganda is a powerful and terrifying tool, as is media bias, misinformation, and stereotyping.

Trying to understand what's going on by looking at the evidence available may not be the perfect option (or, if you're the Republican party, not an option at all,) but it's the best option we've got.

And that's the truth... isn't it?

So what do you think dearest nerdlets?
Have I broken your brains, or did I make some sense here?
Do we have a duty to stand up for the truth, even when we're not sure what the truth is?
Talk to me! 😊💬

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  1. We all have a duty to stand up for the truth. I call out lies whenever I see them-especially the racist, homophobic and Islamophobic "news" that people share on social media. I agree with you about the importance of education. In my Literacy classes we get students to look at newspapers critically and examine the use of emotive language, hyperbole and the biased framing that you mention. Some of them think propaganda is something that only existed in the past during the world wars, and it's interesting to see them rethink things.

    1. Awesome - we need people who stand up to a-holes (stay safe though!)

      It's great that you do that in Literacy. I think everyone should take Media Studies, at least at a basic level. Media is the A-level that I've used most in my day-to-day life, followed by Law. Media gives the vital skills that we need in this world, and I'm so glad that your students at least have an opportunity to start to think about things on a deeper level!

  2. This was a very interesting post, Cee! I have become more aware of the news I am consuming and how it may be biased or untrue. For example, especially during this coronovirus situation, a lot of rumours have been going around that are racist and just instil fear. It can be hard to weave out the fact from fiction sometimes.

    1. People's fears sometimes get the better of them and come out in ugly, prejudiced, ways. For example, we've had instances here in Wales where Chinese pupils were asked to stay home because they'd visited China (the school was reprimanded,) and a Chinese market stall-holder was harrassed by other stall-holders and told by them that she should stay away. Smh.

      People, sometimes, are the weirdest of creatures - and I count the duck-billed platypus in that, and they're *weird* !


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!