Lies, Damn Lies and Alternative Facts

Life is getting increasingly complicated as facts and alternative facts jostle to influence elections and affect our choices. But is it still possible to find truth amid the chaos?

New forms of technology

Over recent centuries technology has served to make things more comfortable for people while also increasing a sense of frustration and isolation for many.

The economy developed from the natural tendency of humans to trade with one another, as people have always coveted what they didn’t have.

Specialists armed with specific skills soon appeared, as expertise in different areas was needed to track what was being bought and sold and at what price.

The influence of the expert evolved to dominate trade relations and business dealings, as the professions extracted value from the capitalist model of trade.

Today, experts are still in vogue as their technical knowledge and know-how drive business and the economy forward.

With such energy and motivation, however, it is necessary to make sure those who specialise don’t disengage from those they support.

Equally important is the need for non-experts to understand how the world works and what differentiates fact from alternative fact.

New forms of communication

Even with new forms of communication that reach countless people recent elections in the United Kingdom and United States were peppered with lies offered as the truth.

Voters, as a result, made decisions based on incorrect information or as what since emerged as a new term: alternative facts.

Alternative facts have combined with false news to become a popular, albeit disappointing and nasty, way to influence voters, shape opinion and even win elections.

In a noise-driven world of 24/7 news alternative facts and false information are seen by many people as genuine and by the time the truth is known the argument is lost.

Experts, for their part, have a role to play in ensuring the information they distribute is unbiased, fact-checked and evidenced-based.

They are deemed knowledgeable because they are seen to have a particular level of expertise in an area.

Experts can be found in any subject and are seen as possessing a higher level of knowledge than the amateur.

Their views are based on facts and reflect a body of knowledge built upon since the subject was first studied.

Experts, of course, don’t know everything but they know enough for it to make sense to consider their views.

And for those who report the news there is a duty to ensure the information they present is correct and reflects the truth.

So, facts and alternative facts are now offered as equally valid in a world where lies are presented as truths and the truth is getting harder to find.