My dad has always been the master of telling tall tales with a straight face. You just never quite know if he’s telling the truth or pulling your leg, and it filled my childhood with laughter while teaching me not to take life too seriously. I remember one time my nephew Justin was visiting my parents in Oregon, where it is illegal to pump your own gas, and Justin asked my dad why someone else had to pump their gas. Without missing a beat my dad told Justin, who like 10 at the time, that it was because you never knew when Indians might raid the station so it wasn’t safe to be out of the car.
I also remember several years later when Justin figured out, on a subsequent trip, that “Granddad” wasn’t being completely honest about that whole Indian raid thing.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where people lie very intentionally to advance a particular agenda. Dad’s tall tales were harmless and told in good fun, but when “news” outlets knowingly pass off lies as truths it’s no laughing matter. In case it wasn’t already obvious, the outlet which calls itself Fox News has long been guilty of this practice and was recently exposed for it’s deceptive “storytelling” through the ongoing defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems. Fox has consistently reported that the 2020 US Presidential election was stolen and that Joe Biden, therefore, is not the rightful President. The “theft” was supposedly perpetrated by Dominion, the manufacturers of the machines that collect and count election ballots.
It turns out the 2020 election was one of the most secure in American history, and the $1.7 billion lawsuit against Fox has unearthed countless internal documents in which the lead entertainers of the network clearly demonstrate that they know they are reporting fake news. They even go so far as to detail why they lie on purpose, expressly to advance a false narrative that their audience prefers to the real news of the world. They are selling a product, not reporting news, so the word “News” in their title is, at best, ironic.
This has all come to light in recent weeks, and for my part, it elicited an eye roll and an “of course.” I am a high-information person who seeks out all angles to any news story, as even the networks who really are reporting actual news have a tendency to sensationalize or fail to do enough research to tell the whole story. In the Information Age, being informed puts up a fight!
What I do find curious is the reaction of the Faux News audience to the revelation that their chosen harbingers have been lying to them very intentionally as what amounts to a marketing ploy. Rather than opening their eyes and realizing they have been kept in the dark, many are doubling down on their counterfeit facts and refusing to believe that Faux is faux. Tucker Carlson may be telling everyone behind the scenes that he’s lying, but he’s probably just lying about that.
(Insert head scratch and furrowed brow here)
One of my primary hobbies is studying those things which we believe to determine the basis for belief. I’ve studied religion and politics relentlessly, but also enjoy reading about history to learn the many things we weren’t taught in school. Ron Chernow’s biographies of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, in particular, were incredibly enlightening and painted a very different picture of those founders than what I had read or been taught previously. Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them was my introduction to the concept of fake news, and it is largely responsible for starting me on my personal political journey. The collected works of Marcus Borg gave me permission to ask the questions that had long bugged me about Christianity, while the works of Carl Sagan and now Neil deGrasse Tyson expanded my thinking about the universe and our place in it. What I can’t imagine is coming across new information that conclusively proves my previously held belief about something to be false yet continuing to insist on believing it.
That sounds like insanity to me!
What really bothers me is that deciding to believe things that are demonstrably false is hugely damaging, both personally and on a societal scale. We have failed to address the biggest existential threat to life on our planet because oil companies have paid off politicians and purchased fake narratives to run on fake news outlets like the one mentioned above. We have allowed ourselves to be distracted by somewhat random religious beliefs that justify acting against our planetary neighbors and inflicting harm on women and children, in particular. We even construct our own scientific views that preclude the study of science, which may be the ultimate exercise in stupidity and self-destruction.
It’s easy to draw dire conclusions about where this pattern of human behavior will lead us. In fact, it’s difficult to draw any other kind of conclusion, if I’m honest. At the end of the day, the only real solution is awareness. Be aware of your own biases, superstitions and prejudices and work to overcome them. Do what you can, even in small ways, to be part of the solutions we so desperately need to pursue. Challenge yourself, every day, to question what you’re being told, especially by the media. Do you own research and come to your own conclusions.
Our collective future may depend on it.
6 thoughts on “The Art of The Lie”
Texas or Houston?
Dad is from Oregon, so that happened in Salem. I grew up mostly back and forth between Salem and Houston.
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Oh, my question was about the NCAA basketball tournament. Then I remembered you were from Seattle and thought, maybe Gonzaga. Never mind.
Lol… I’ve spent many years covering the NBA but could never quite find the attraction for college basketball. Too much dribbling… Not enough action…
Needs more sky! Annoyingly hard to read on the trees background.
And yes, the liars have already won and catstrophic harm to the world over the next few hundred years is locked in even if humans vanished overnight.
But they are making it rapidly worse.
I wish I knew how to do that!
It’s incredibly frustrating to listen to the liars lie and watch the sheep follow them in droves… The very people who are hurt the most by their policies are their biggest supporters and donors.