Listening to the Munich Security Conference on TV this morning, one of the questions asked was relating to all these alleged Russian/ US cyber-hacking shenanigans and potential repercussions for everyone else across the globe. According to the German-to-English translator (or at least my undertanding of what was said) the questioner basically wanted to know whether or not there was any factual basis to the allegations being reported, or was is just another strand of rumour-mongering pseudo-scandal constantly being whipped up in this post-truth world…
It got me thinking… It does worry me that there is just so much extreme variation in all the frequently conflicting and often downright outrageous information out there right now that it has become virtually impossible to seperate the wheat from the chaff, decide what is deliberately deceitful, what is dubious but nevertheless genuinely misunderstood, and what is unambiguously factually checkable through multiple independent sources. But overall, the wily, weaselly way in which fiction is translated so readily into fact is a disturbingly growing trend. It seems like lies are the new truth, fake is the new real…
There may indeed be the possibility of multiple truths existing simultaneously in the world, or at least multiple interpretations of what constitutes truth, depending on many factors – with religious belief being one of the most influential factors out there – but surely facts have to be factually accurate no matter what your fundamental beliefs? It seriously pisses me off that I now have to independently fact-check everything I hear and read myself, because I no longer know who to trust, whether mainstream or social media sources.
Lies, it seems, are everywhere we turn; some blatant fabrications from start to finish, some cleverly twisting and embellishing a germ of truth and distorting it out of all recognition, some simply borne out of sheer ignorance and closed-in narrow-mindedness. When I was studying for my degree, it was perfectly acceptable for me to argue anything I wanted – even that black was white – as long as everything I wrote was correctly referenced by reliable sources. Without adequate referencing, my arguements became only my opinion, not verifiable factual statements to be relied on.
Personally I think politics should require a similar level of rigour – there are so many different interpretations of facts, but there is no such thing as an ‘alternative fact’. In my way of thinking, politicians should be held accountable for the propogation of any lies they tell, and moreover any democratic decisions made by a population, where it can be proved that the political arguements made by those with the power to influence that decision were not only flawed but an entirely fabricated fantasy, should be recanted, revoked, rendered null and void.
Because if, for example, individually we were to embellish the truth on our CV when applying for a job, were offered an interview on the basis of the information provided in that CV, then were offered the job but were ultimately found out to have bare-faced lied about our qualifications and experience, our contract of work would be summarily terminated, and quite rightly so. So why the hell don’t we demand that most basic level of honesty from our politicians, too?
Or is that simply too much to ask for in a post-truth world…?