Truth vs Believable-Lies
Is it true that “noise from windmills causes cancer,” as President Trump claimed? Politifact.com and the American Cancer Society report that there is no evidence for this.
Most people are fearful of cancer, however. Once their fear is aroused, people opt for survival. Trump’s claim might be untrue, but in a life or death situation, one should not take the chance of getting cancer. The fears that enabled humans to predominate after millions of years of evolution are trumping scientific truth and leading many to believe lies.
Science itself starts with belief, called a hypothesis. The criteria for scientific truth, however, is measurable evidence.
Sadly, the internet technology that enables truth to be instantaneously available can do the same for believable-lies and fake news.
A recent MIT study revealed that Twitter falsehoods travel 6 times faster than truth. People will often share sensational, believable-lies with their friends, because they are outraged and want sympathy. Believable-lies should be identified as such and not spread as truth.
We must fight falsehoods from flying faster. Propagandists know that people will believe a lie if it is repeated enough times.
Before our present post-truth era, President “Honest Abe” Lincoln once said, “I am a great believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”