Monday, January 9, 2017

Fake News

A new term has arisen in our daily conversation: "Fake news."  Regrettably, the term itself is meant to deflect its true meaning; its true nature is "Lying." Lying has some shades like "disinformation," "white lies," and "propaganda" but that is what adjectives are for: state lying, political lying, commercial lying, social lying are perfectly acceptable refinements.

One problem is the political element; people are willing to accept a lie that is advantageous to their own political point of view. “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” (Zito on Trump) Clinton's insincerity was laughable in its volume and almost never noted by her cheer-leading press. More, we are swamped by information of uncertain accuracy and that requires a certain amount of mental censorship.

And there is another element: The Sacred Narrative. Fiction is essentially a lie, but as a representation of life, it is, in essence, true. So in popular discourse, something untrue but representative of a larger, true theme is generally accepted by its proponents.

And the post modern world is nothing if not broadminded.

But we have seen some serious advances in the realm of lying; people are getting really good at it. Lying by states has become remarkably common and effective. (Googling Russia's disinformation programs over the last few decades reveals quite astonishing depth and breadth of planned lying.) But until we start taking such mendacity seriously--until we can actually call it by its real name--we are going to be stuck with it.

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