First, a few quotations – hey, quotations are my thing, you know:
“The Shing law forbids killing, but they killed knowledge, they burned books, and what may be worse, they falsified what was left. They slipped in the Lie, as always. We aren’t sure of anything concerning the Age of the League; how many of the documents are forged? You must remember, you see, wherein the Shing are our enemy. It’s easy enough to live one’s whole life without ever seeing one of them — knowingly….There is no trust in them, because there is no truth in them….It was the Lie that defeated all the races of the League and left us subject to the Shing. Remember that, Falk. Never believe the truth of anything the Enemy has said.” [Ursula K. LeGuin, City of Illusions]
“A thousand truths do not mark a man as a truth-teller, but a single lie marks him as a damned liar….Lying to other people is your business, but I tell you this: once a man gets a reputation as a liar, he might as well be struck dumb, for people do not listen to the wind.” [Robert A. Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy]
“You spoke of trust. If there is no truth, there can be no trust.” [Jack Vance, Araminta Station]
How odd a thing it is, that the most striking statements I can recall about the imperative of truth should come from great writers of fiction! Yet it is so. Oh, wait: here’s another one, this time from a non-writer:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
That should suffice for authoritative references.
The years just behind us have given Americans reason to doubt any and every claim, almost without regard for its source. A handful of sources retain some shred of credibility, yet even they are subject to demands for verification and confirmation. One thing has become clear: we cannot trust our political class. Nothing a politician says can be taken at face value. Even the best of them are subject to suspicion and scrutiny – and that is exactly as it should be.
However, the foulest offense against truth – the capital offense, if I may – is to the account of the “news media,” which are no longer any such thing. Their partisanry stands revealed. The tawdriness of their motives is irrefutable. Yet they strut as shamelessly as ever. Trust us, they say. Ignore the so-called “alternative” media and the “citizen journalists.” We’ve got the real news.
A few Americans, incredibly, still buy it. I hope you don’t, Gentle Reader. There is no truth in them. There is only an all-eclipsing agenda. They demonstrate it every day.
Today, the media offense at the center of engaged Americans’ attention concerns the Hunter Biden laptop:
…Last year, prosecutors interviewed Mr. Archer and subpoenaed him for documents and grand jury testimony, the people said. Mr. Archer, who was sentenced last month in an unrelated securities fraud case in which a decision to set aside his conviction was reversed, had served with Mr. Biden on Burisma’s board, starting in 2014.
People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity. Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.
In some of the emails, Mr. Biden displayed a familiarity with FARA, and a desire to avoid triggering it.
When the New York Post broke the laptop story, the rest of the “major media,” with the Times leading the charge, pissed on it and the Post from a great height. In tandem, Facebook, Twitter, and other “social media” platforms censored any reference to the Post’s article. And of course we had these tidbits:
- During Presidential Debate, Biden Calls Laptop A “Russian Plant”
- Lesley Stahl Says Laptop “Can’t Be Verified”
- Former Intel Officials Call Laptop “Russian Disinfo”
The Post, of course, is gleeful in vindication:
Forgive the profanity, but you have got to be s–tting us.
First, the New York Times decides more than a year later that Hunter Biden’s business woes are worthy of a story. Then, deep in the piece, in passing, it notes that Hunter’s laptop is legitimate.
“People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity,” the Times writes. “Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.”
Authenticated!!! You don’t say. You mean, when a newspaper actually does reporting on a topic and doesn’t just try to whitewash coverage for Joe Biden, it discovers it’s actually true?
Any honest organ of journalism would be pleased to be so definitively vindicated. The pity of the thing is that the damage done is likely to be irremediable. And I’m not speaking solely of the damage to our nation by a usurped federal government.
There are consequences to the destruction of trust. Miriam of Chicks on the Right mentions some of them today:
Daisy sent this to me this morning.
At the Trump rally this weekend, @waltermasterson found that many Trump supporters believe that Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping are heroes working together to overthrow the deep state. They support the invasion of Ukraine and appear to want China to invade Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/MhiLBmWb9j
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) March 14, 2022
I offered to address it because she was afraid she’d be too mean. 🙂 I’m not promising I won’t be, because you guys, this is freaking batsh*t….
I’m convinced that all of the Big Tech censorship that’s happened over the past year has actually made people MORE susceptible to conspiracy theories, radicalization, and ideas like those espoused by the woman in the above video. I’m not sure how many more times folks who believe in all of this stuff need to be let down by their own deadlines, their own theories not coming to fruition, before they realize they’re being played.
Now, whatever the truth of the matter – and it may be quite a long time before we have it, if we ever do – the proliferation of wild theories is a direct consequence of the loss of trust in the major media. The dynamic is fairly straightforward:
- The organs of information have proved themselves un-trustworthy, and the fora for discussion arbitrarily silence persons who deviate from the “official truth.”
- Thereafter, conversation will admit any and every thesis that might explain why we’re being force-fed a steady diet of lies.
- Since there are innumerable possible explanations for such a thing, they will multiply and proliferate without limit.
- The “zero plausibility threshold” was set by the major media, which have demonstrated indifference to the truth.
Perhaps this would be beyond the comprehension of a small child. However, I’d expect a teenager to get it without a beat. Look at how much crap the “authorities” in their lives feed them.
It’s bad. Expect it to get worse. What the ultimate consequences will be, I cannot say.
It’s not just the profusion of new, barely comprehensible conspiracy theories that should concern us. The loss of trust in our informational institutions has begun to atomize our society. The groups in which individual Americans invest themselves grow steadily smaller. The extent to which we’re willing to burden ourselves for others’ benefit is dwindling. And of course, we grow ever more cautious about what we say that we allow others to hear, and what we do that we allow others to know.
I’ve written before about the importance of “identity management:” the practice of deciding whom you can allow to know what about yourself. Outside our homes, we’re letting less of ourselves be known. The dangers from allowing others to know much about you have risen higher than the interpersonal and social advantages from disclosure. No one can be certain what would follow the admission of some unpopular belief or position.
Our trust in the organs that disseminate information of all sorts cannot fall much further before our suspicions isolate us all. For my part, I don’t like the idea of having to arm myself before I answer the door. I’ll do it if I must, but I’ll hate it – and I’d bet that you’d hate it too.
See also this old piece about trust. And have a nice day.