does Truth matter?

So, here we go again. The cultural conversation is about to go through another election cycle where the big loser will be…

The Truth.

Recently, a new batch of lies have hatched from the mouths of those who are not all that concerned with the truth. Among the deliberate and accidental misrepresentations of truth:

Trump continually claiming Obama was not born in the U.S. I guess the Hawaiian certificate of life birth is no longer binding.

A Texas state representative introducing a Bill to ban sharia law in Texas. Why did he do this? Because, he said, Dearborn, MI is using sharia law already. This, of course, is simply not true.

Instead of exposing these people, and many other politicians, teachers, authors, professors, reporters, entertainers, and yes, even religious people, we have grown tolerant of untruth. We have allowed people to say things that are not true and labeled them contrarians or outside the mainstream.

It would be much more beneficial if we labeled them liars.

In light of this new round of acceptable untruth, I wanted to report something from my Lakepoint Blog days (November 2009):

In 2006, Google entered China. They did so at a great cost. Instead of their standard practice of helping connect people with accurate information they seek, Google submitted to the censorship of the Chinese government. The results for a search on Tiananmen Square reveal directions, shopping information, and happy people going about their way. There is no mention of the hundreds killed when tanks and troops turned on their own people. There is no iconic picture of a single man stopping a row of tanks. The Chinese googlers will see no pictures of “The Goddess of Democracy,” a statue created by students and erected in the square shortly before the violent crackdown. They will not read about the hundreds who died protesting Chinese Communism.

In order to enter China, Google had to compromise. Marketshare defeated truth. Manipulation won out over full disclosure. Myth won out over reality. The great irony of it all is that Google has a corporate philosophy page (http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html).On that page are the ten things they know to be true. Number 6 reads: “You can make money without doing evil” and number 8 states: “The need for information crosses all borders.”

The largest collector of information in the history of the world has intentionally misinformed the largest population in the world.

This should bother us, but I’m afraid it doesn’t. We almost expect to be lied to. In a world of spin, fabrication, manipulation, and outright lies, we do not find misinformation to be that shocking. If someone says our current president is foreign born and should not be president, no one stops them and says: ‘You had better prove it.’ If someone says 9-11 was an inside job perpetrated by the Bush Administration no one stops them and says: ‘Where is the evidence?’

Sometimes I am tempted to say with Petronius: “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.” But misinformation is a dangerous thing in the hands of those who are reckless with truth. Truth matters in every area of life. The moment we allow misinformation to go unchallenged we have cheapened our world and everything in it.

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