If you believe in the existence of rumors, delusions and imagination, I’m sure you have developed a certain level of skepticism.
This level of skepticism varies from person to person. We tend to believe what we read and hear, and we make our mind around facts that aren’t confirmed, or fake-confirmed by people with an agenda.
The worst thing is, that certain information has an effect on our body and mind, even when we know it isn’t true. Someone tells you a friend talked bad about you. You know this friend so well and wouldn’t believe some stranger telling lies about him or her, but doesn’t it leave a taste? What if another stranger fake-confirms that lie? You’re already thinking, it’s already in your head. A friendship sufferers from two simple lies.
Now let’s scale this up. A group of people telling stories about another group. True or not? How do we know? And more important, how do we avoid getting involved, or developing an own opinion based on a potential rumor or lie? I think that’s very important, and also personal.
Imagine a politician tells lies in order to fulfil his agenda. Imagine there’s money and/ or power at risk, is it feasible that people spread false information? For sure it is. Is it possible that non-involved people help spreading these lies, believing that they are just helping to share information? Sure it is.
And what is a lie anyways? How about keeping an important information to yourself? That’s just not saying it, is it? And a white lie, told not to hurt someone, is it good or bad?
It is complex. If you allow lies to become a part of your character, you can get lost in leveling out all those lies according to your internal calibration. No doubt people tell white lies for good reasons, without meaning any harm. But how could you be sure not to cause harm? How about this, truth hurts sometimes, but truth is never wrong? You didn’t like the cake someone shared, because it was full of egg shells, or it was overbaked? Why not saying so? Will the baker learn to make better cakes? Or give up trying? Being nice is very short term when it’s not honest, and it hinders improvement, or change. It might also cause further confusion, or result it another lie, and another, until maybe at one point the truth comes to light. So a white lie might only delay the confrontation. Is it worth it? Is it worth to have a network of lies in your head permanently?
But back to the big delusions. A ruler influencing his people by telling lies, doesn’t sound made up, does it? Dictators have to do that, to keep people under control. To keep the illusion of a super leader alive. That’s their own argument to rule without democratic elections, because they know best, right?
They have to declare an enemy, to keep the focus away from their flaws. Or hide the truth about mistakes they made. That’s tough, the more is at risk for you, the more you feel the need to lie. The more you promise, the less you can admit.
Totally absurd is it, when an obvious lie is told, just for the sake of answering a question without telling the truth. Instead of saying nothing, politeness or the shear need to talk make people say the worst things, like “No, I never used drugs”, or “This is just a test”, or “No I haven’t met him/her”.
There are numerous lies in our history, with immense effects. See a short list here! Are they lies?
So how can we find out if an information is true or not?
Does a vaccination cause death, is the virus fake, who is the bad guy in that story, Putin or Selenskyi? Are there lizard people, or UFOs? Is radiation bad for our health, do the biggest companies or richest people control our entire life? Are chemicals like biocides, MSG or fumes bad for our health?
You might want to categorize claims into those, which can be proved, and those that cannot. As long as you don’t put an UFO in front of some people, you don’t have waterproof evidence, right? Something in the sky might look like something we know from the movies, but it could as well be man-made, isn’t it? I agree, now that the US officially say, they don’t know what they are seeing, it still doesn’t mean that it cannot be man-made. It is not that all humans would talk. They have secrets. No lizard man in public yet, so not more than a rumor.
You can see a virus or bacteria under a microscope, so to me that’s proof. You can find all kinds of small organisms outside, with the most ridiculous shapes, so I believe a disease is usually not man-made, it is natural. it can be modified and spread by humans, sure.
Biocides are literally life enders for living organisms, how could it not be harmful to us? Fogging against mosquitos doesn’t only kill mosquitos, it kills all insects. How could it be harmless for other animals, and us? The dosage makes the poison, right? We are exposed to small dosages for our entire life, that adds up I would say. Few decades ago, people washed their hands in benzene, and now it is banned from most laboratories, because it causes cancer. Don’t think earlier people didn’t care, they just didn’t know. Back then they would tell you it’s safe, and it cleans hands very well.
A state attacked by another state, to me that’s clear. How could starting a war help? How would destroying a city, making live impossible for millions of people, help those same people getting rid of their evil leader? Wouldn’t you have to protect the people you claim to free, and wouldn’t you pick the evil leaders out only? Can the attacking party be the good one?
Huge companies trying to make money? Rich people trying to become richer? It’s obvious that they do, how would they have grown so big if they wouldn’t? Imagine behind all decisions is one single decision maker. One person with a job, with bills to pay and a task to fulfill. It is easy to understand that such people sometimes make poor decisions, causing harm to a consumer. It is also possible, that this person made a decision, that causes others to make more poor decisions, like telling your sales staff to lie to customers. And we also know, that there are regulations, made by our elected governments, to avoid harm caused by fraud. And again in such institutions single humans make decisions, that can either be good or bad. Means humans make mistakes, but there is a system to control the market. And it is a market, where people make money.
To find out the truth, we need a certain level of skills. Education is so important! And paper is patient, so we can’t just believe what someone printed on a sheet of paper. We need not only the skills and opportunities to do research, but also the urge to dig deeper, and the believe that the truth is worth it. We need to understand that some people tell lies, to gain profit or power. So a good portion of skepticism is appropriate. Without willing to vilify anyone, I wouldn’t believe facts published on forums, messengers or social media, without fact checking them. I wouldn’t fully trust any information that comes from one source only. If a fact is found on different sources, like Wikipedia, a governmental page, a huge newspaper, TV, than we might assume that is has been checked multiple times. Though it still might be wrong.
Last thing: Whatever you say, whatever is proven, might be countered by killing phrases. A killing phrase is something said to stop an argument, or a discussion. You suggest something, and the killing phrase “That will never work!” ends the thing. Very easy. Very easy, because it kills the open atmosphere for a fact-based discussion, and starts an atmosphere of domination. I’m right, and you are not. You think you know how politics work? Someone might tell you, that you are in the hamster wheel and know nothing. Those killing phrases don’t come with solid arguments, but with a lot of conviction. Conviction, maybe created out of helplessness, mental overload or misdirection. Even worse, maybe created to fulfill an agenda. Profit, power. It seems appealing that someone claims to know for sure. But be aware that they play-act.
That’s why things get personal so easily with such people. For them it’s personal, because they ignore or don’t have the facts. There’s your solution against killing phrases – ask for evidence. Ask them for the fundament of their assertions. Know your stuff, so that you can precisely ask questions and lead a fact-based discussion.
It is totally fine to have alternative opinions, as long as they do not harm others. But convincing people to stop a sensible treatment, or even only calling people stupid, based on self-made facts from others with an agenda, that’s dangerous. No doubt science caused a lot of problems, because every good thing can be used for the bad too. But how much grief was caused already by superstition, hearsay, and misinformation? Think of Jews, witches, and albinos.
Education is always key. Learning how to understand relationships, to how to understand how the wheels turn, makes you strong against influencers, who either feed on chaos, because they have some loose wires, or who have plans to gain power and profit. I’m not saying that facts change, we have to learn so much, but I’d say we have already learned a way how to learn. Let’s not forget that when we have alternative oponions.