People lie all the time. For an intuitive reflex, a survival strategy, aided by something called unethical amnesia, it is irreparably damaging when the people around us indulge in disingenuousness. The truth; now that is a whole other quantity. A paradigm, a learned habit touching the boundaries of ideology, it helped secure civilisation against the delusions of tribalism. And we had it pedastaled, venerated as dear and sacred. Today as with all things sacred, the very idea of truth is under siege. So what is truth, and why is it so important? In the dawning age of post-truth, we feel the need now more than ever to try and outline the importance of being earnest.
When as children we were told repeatedly to speak the truth, what did we think it was? At that age all we could comprehend was that truth had an aura of righteousness and it was attached to that other abstract thing goodness. We didn’t examine anything too closely. For instance, were we telling the truth when we described an event as we experienced it? The problem is that everyone has a different impression of the same experience. Everyone has a different version. Truth will be nebulous if the actual mechanics of it escapes us even in adulthood.
Continue reading The pernicious bubble theory and why the Truth is no longer self-evident
It’s the internet, stupid.
Horror became so quotidian, that when the trolls crawled out of their comment boxes and bayoneted away the experts and nerds, who had acquired their information through study, we didn’t blink. How did the ghost of uninformed opinion gain substantiation, corporalise and destroy nuanced perspective?
Perhaps we have always felt it, that slow, burning resentment against anyone who dares to know better, more than than us the average person. A troll is born in burning, silent resentment.
That resentful undercurrent ran through long-ago Friends episodes, where dumb Joey was always more popular than know-it-all Ross, it was why The Simpsons’ nerdy Lisa could never sell as many t-shirts as her prankster brother Bart. But whereas both Joey and Bart had heart, the troll is devoid of it.
Continue reading We the troll and the horror of a laterally inverted world
Mr Spock from Star Trek was the first rationalist in my life. The late great Leonard Nimoy was able to imbue the pointy-eared alien with bits from his own personality; the Vulcan neck pinch was his contribution, apparently. Though completely fiction, Spock came to represent so much more. Why did Spock become such an icon? When so little reason is available to repair the human condition, propped up on crutches like religion, humans will yearn for it. Through Spock, we began to appreciate the crucial function of logic—to bring us back from the brink. As humans, we are perpetually on a cliff-edge needing to be pulled back. Spock’s cool logic was one of those life-savers. It saved us from ourselves.
Continue reading For Spock, the great rationalist