Unfortunately, America has always accepted lies as truth

There’s been a lot written about today’s social feeds serving as news providers imperiling democracy as people no longer base their opinions on truth but on lies. Unfortunately, America, and societies all over the world, have accepted lies as truth for decades at the very least.

I say that with the JFK assassination in mind. There’s no better example of lies being accepted as truth. Sure people will cite polls suggesting that Americans doubt the findings of the Warren Commission, but when someone asks Siri or Wikipedia who killed JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald is said to be the lone assassin. It is quite clear this is false, yet there is little up roar beyond dedicated JFK researchers. Most people simply don’t care.

Why do we accept lies as truth? Because it is easy and comfortable. We don’t like hearing facts that make us question how we view the world. People simply will not search for news that upends lies that they have come to accept as the truth.

Are legitimate journalists from reputable sources the answer? Nope. Need proof? Good, don’t just take my word for it. Journalists take the easy route all the time. The JFK assassination is just one example where the media are all too willing to spread government lies that do not add up to reality. Consider the build up to the Iraq War? Where were journalists questioning the official government statements then? The beauty of the American media is that they appear to be neutral entities dedicated to finding the facts. The facts they rely on are those provided by government agencies and major corporations. Press releases make the job of being a journalist much easier, and it may be a pipe dream to expect journalists to question press releases like they do unsubstantiated sources. Public relations divisions of government agencies and corporations ALWAYS have the ear of the media.

Here’s a truth bomb for you: no one does more work than they have to especially when that work penalizes your career. The journalist that publishes the first story that breaks open a scandal (think Watergate) is lauded. We want the latest news, not the late news.   Because of the demands of the job, it is understandable that a journalist would rather go ahead and produce the article expected by the editors than attempt chasing down a story that may not be a story after all. All the while, the media can appear as separate entities since they are not state owned, but information coming from the state is the media’s lifeblood. When the state lies, the media lies ignorantly along with it claiming to help inform the public.

Why we shouldn’t worry about fake news

We shouldn’t worry about fake news. There. I said it. Why? IT DOESN’T MATTER. People believe what conforms to the world they view as reality. Anything that does not fit into that puzzle is discarded and ignored.  There could be an article that proves beyond a doubt there is no god, and people would still believe in god. Why? It is too unsettling for people to live a life in which there is no god since they have believed from a very young age and have structured their lives around this belief. God exists to them even if there is not really a god out there somewhere. Fake news is not the problem in my eyes. The problem is a lack of understanding within society of its own self. We need to come to terms with the fact that people are still animals who are programmed by our society. Within America, we are programmed to consume. Consume what? The individual has power by choosing what to consume. Very few people choose to consume things that do not agree with them in some way. Consider your friendships. Your friends more often than not see the world the same way as you….that’s partly why they are your friends. They are also the ones most likely to change the way you view the world. Not an article you read on a news site or this site. Why? Because it is much more difficult to dismiss a puzzle piece (view of reality, information, fact, idea) coming from a friend who you respect and have invested your own emotions and time in. What we really need to stop are friends who spout bullshit! People will consume what they want no matter what Facebook plans to do to combat fake news. If they inadvertantly read something that is contrary to their beliefs that construct reality, they will just ignore it.

What are the CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation? To me they peddle falsehoods to the congressmen and the public, but very few people are concerned about them. They likely do more harm than any fake news article ever has by influencing actual laws being made. I ignore them because I view society differently. That’s a topic for a different day though.

 

 

Why I appreciate HBO’s West World

I consider West World to be one of the best television series at least through season one. It has nothing really to do with the over arching story. For me, the power of West World lies in what it says about humanity and technology. In a society where almost everyone is self obsessed taking selfies, this show asks what’s the difference between you and Siri. We tend to consider ourselves as special, unique, and creative because we are conscious and exercise free will. West World pops that bubble by suggesting that there is not much difference between us and technology once it starts to remember. The technology today may not be there yet, but it is easy to fathom a day where Disney no longer hires people but programs machines to interact with tourists.

West World evokes such thoughts because we never know who is a human and who is a machine. Some characters, like Dalores, are obviously machines, but even when we know “what” someone is, the series invites us to imagine and explore the difference in being of humans and machines.

Don’t watch video if you have not made it to the 8th episode and don’t want a plot twist spoiled.

In what ways are we programmed like the machines in West World?

(Warning: Long winded answer where I wander to and fro to make my point.)

Well, from the very start of our lives we adapt and learn from the environment we are raised within. We are programmed to behave a certain way in school, at home, and with friends. We learn that some thoughts, words, or actions are “bad” and come to associate them with shame. Some people never quite learn to do so because their social environment does not induce them to feel shame. If you could get away with anything (which you can in West World) and pay no consequences, why not murder someone who bothers you? That’s a drastic action, but we are programmed in a sense to talk about or avoid certain topics. When first meeting someone, most people probably avoid talking about politics or religion. Why is that? I think one reason is that these two aspects of someone’s identity are deeply ingrained and are difficult to change. How do people arrive at their political or religious beliefs? Is there a true religion? If our religious beliefs are largely a result of what our parents believe and expose us to, are some people just unlucky by being exposed to the wrong religion? There is no true religion. Religion in a sense is like part of our programming. Each comes with a set of rules and guidelines to abide by in order to live a holy life. When we don’t live up to expectations, we feel shame.

Shame is an emotion that we come to associate with being “wrong”. When a teacher called on you in school after you were daydreaming, you likely felt a degree of shame. People who slander or bully homosexuals induce shame in their victims for being homosexuals. Society (and myself) believe the bullies should be the ones who feel shame because sexuality has much to do with experiences one has in life (environment). Despite what some (including my parents) may believe, there is no natural sexuality. For many men, their sexuality isn’t as strict when they are imprisoned. What has changed is their environment. But hetero men don’t go to prison and instantly fancy men. It takes time to adapt and break down the wall that they have spent much of their lives building between hetero and homo sexuality. Prisoners have a difficult time realizing a heterosexual lifestyle in prison and thus adapt.

Take any part of you: gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, occupation, class. With each part of an identity, there are expectations, opportunities, restrictions, biases, and prejudices that are bundled along with it. America is yet to have a woman President of the United States, so being a woman thus far in America has meant that person won’t be President. Over Christmas my family was discussing the election, and my step aunt mentioned her nieces or grand daughters being so excited that Trump was elected. I said that was sad to have girls at such a young age enthusiastic about a sexist being elected and that I would have liked to see Hillary elected because it would be good for girls in this country to see a woman elected so they might believe they could be President one day. A woman my age said that she felt she could be President. I didn’t say this, but I thought how ludicrous.  What fantasy world do you live in after this last election? Any woman growing up hoping to be President has to deal with being labeled a bitch for governing the same way as her male counterparts.

I got off topic there for a minute, but the point I want to make is that categories impact people in ways that we don’t perceive and are taught to see the effects as natural. These categories program us much like the characters in West World. If more people could realize that they are no better than anyone else and that where they are in life is due more to the environments they have been placed in than to hard work and ingenuity, we might be able to solve some problems within our society before its too late.

Trump fails with response to Streep’s Golden Globes speech

Donald Trump will begin leading this country in 11 days. Many people, including myself, are uneasy about the future of this country because he seems to totally lack compassion and cannot accept responsibility for his actions. Case in point is his reaction to being criticized by Meryl Streep last night for an episode that occurred while he campaigned across the country where he imitated a New York Times reporter with a chronic condition affecting the movement of his arms.

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It is interesting to see how Fox News defends such actions. They suggest in the video below that Trump uses this impression all the time to portray someone as incompetent.

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The problem is not the impression by itself. What he says to the audience is critically important. He actually says, “You’ve got to see this guy”.  He also draws his arm up and locks it much more so than in previous renditions. The point is that he clearly aimed to imitate the reporter and discount his article because of his disability. His basic message is that he disagrees with what this reporter has written and his supporters should too. He doesn’t suggest they actually read the article. Instead, he says they “have to see this guy” and upon seeing him with his disability and his affected arms they will laugh and point along with him.

So what would a good leader (person) do in such a case where people are upset by this message? I believe the right way to address people who I upset because of something I say or do is to first consider the possibility that I was in the wrong. Donald Trump seems incapable of such considerations. Whether or not I felt I was in the wrong, I would apologize for upsetting so many people. Whether or not I felt like I was at fault, I would apologize. Trump seems to equate apologies with weakness.  I would say something like, “I’m sorry that my gimmicks on the campaign trail upset you, and I will try to keep such gimmicks to a minimum going forward.” Instead, he reacts stubbornly by suggesting that it isn’t him who is wrong, but it is everyone who watches the video and perceives it as impersonating someone with a disability.

One person who perceived it this way is Meryl Streep. Here is what she said last night at the Golden Globes.

 


Her criticism of Donald Trump seem reasonable. She suggests that Trump shouldn’t make fun of others who he “outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back” because it only leads to people throughout society seeing bullying as acceptable behavior. How this is controversial I’m not sure. Why were we so concerned about Major League Baseball players injecting themselves with steroids and human growth hormones? Trump is basically Barry Bonds who I’m not sure ever admitted to using performance enhancing drug but certainly used them. The uproar over PEDs was due to the concern that their use would trickle down to boys at lower levels of competition who would view it as a viable means of succeeding. It is a fact that people look to their leaders and those who have succeeded in any particular field as models to base their own behaviors on. If young baseball players see PEDs as acceptable in the major leagues, they will start using in order to be like the pros. With Donald Trump making fun of a disabled reporter, people see this and emulate it hoping to be as successful as Trump.

What was Trump’s reaction the morning after?

Instead of considering opposing views of his actions, he says such people are sore losers who just can’t accept his victory. Instead of helping bring a divided country together by conceding that he has flaws and made a a mistake, he stubbornly says he wasn’t (in his mind) mocking the reporter. The fact is it does not matter what he claims. A lot of people perceived him as mocking the reporter. He fights their criticisms by suggesting their perceptions are at fault, so any criticism is invalid. He is a great model for authoritarianism, and it may not be long before the”authoritarianism” entry on Wikipedia includes Donald Trump.