the powers that be have decided that the Word of the Year for 2016 is ‘post truth’ – Defined as a situation where actual facts or the truth has a less persuasive effect on people’s opinion than ‘emotions or beliefs.’ In other words. We like to believe what we like to believe.
The Truth about 'Post Truth'
In the Movie a Few Good Men. One of the most memorable scenes had Jack Nicholson on the witness stand being interrogated by Tom Cruise. Frustrated by the line of questioning and being forced to defend his actions, The battle hardened military man rages at his youthful accuser 'You can't handle the truth'. His point being that his (Nicholson's) action no matter how unpalatable they may be are a necessary evil that we all choose to turn a blind eye too.
I thought about Jack's outburst recently when I heard that the powers that be have decided that the Word of the Year is ‘post truth’ – Defined as a situation where actual facts or the truth has a less persuasive effect on people’s opinion than ‘emotions or beliefs.’ In other words. We like to believe what we like to believe. We don't want the truth unless it suits us. An example of this is the election of Donald Trump. After close inspection it's was found that Sixty percent of what he said on the campaign trail was untrue. The media where forever pointing out The Donald's porky pies. And yet the American voting public obviously didn't seem to think that honesty was an important quality when choosing their next president.
Our own Brexit campaign was another example of our willingness to accept Post truth. A majority of the British public chose to believe the pro Brexit campaigns hugely exaggerated claims. The fact that they got away with it was a as much of a shock to its most aredent supporters as to the pollsters who had confidently claimed as the polls closed that we were staying in.
We seem far more willing to believe what's known as 'False News' rather than an inconvenient truth. False news has now become the news. And their is a campaign to have these 'made-up' news websites closed down. Some commentators in America are even claiming that it was the made up stories that swung the election for Trump.
As Nicholson says we can't handle the truth. So it's far more comforting to believe the lies and the more outrageous they are, the more gullible we become. Admit it we love a bit of scandal. A story that's a bit salacious, that lends itself to bit of innuendo and dare I say a little bit of smut, and we are hooked.
The honey trap.and the sting. Before he was discredited These were the trademark tools of the tabloids' star undercover reporter who was known affectionately as 'The Fake Sheik'. His modus operandi was to trap his targets whilst dressed as an Arab prince. His scandalous tales were usually front page news. Saddly when the truth did out, the retractions were often buried away towards the back within the small print.
As many a fallen celebrity will tell
You. The dirt sticks. A sensational
Headline is never given the same prominence once it's falseness is discovered. The damage is done to the victims, who have to carry the stigma of 'There's no smoke without fire' around with them for the rest of their lives.
In these Strange Days the truth can sometimes just be an inconvenience that gets in the way of s good story. Post truth is a far more palatable way of getting by, just ask President elect Donald Trump.