Monday, April 26, 2010

Week of 04/26/2010

Selective Reality
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine telling your friend that the Earth is flat, that the Moon is made of green cheese, and that you can run across a deep chasm if you just run really, really fast and don’t EVER look down!

Your friend would probably think you were full of it. Maybe a little tipsy. Or maybe just being silly, right?

How about if you started sending that friend some email messages supposedly “proving” that the Earth is flat, and we were never really on the Moon because it IS made of green cheese, and, oh yeah, that bit about running across a chasm was supposedly proven, but that YouTube pulled the footage. And no matter how many times your friend tells you that you’re full of it, you keep on sending them the “proof”.

That must be a really good friend for that person to put up with that from you on a continual basis, especially if he or she doesn’t believe a single bit of what you’re shoveling.

But what if other people believe the same thing you’re sending your friend? What if there is a whole network of people who will swear that the Earth is really flat, that the Moon is a giant cheese-ball, and that running really fast over a cliff without looking down will defy the laws of gravity? You send them that stuff and they’ll probably be sending back replies like “O-M-G! I knew it all this time!” and then forward it on to their friends.

And yet… does that make ANY of it true?

Let’s suppose half the world’s population believes these things to be true… does that mean that NASA is one big scam agency working in cahoots with the mapmakers? Does it mean that people could instantly defy gravity just by not looking down?

Probably not.

So why do we continue to behave as though anything could be possible simply through larger and larger numbers?

Somewhere out in cyberspace is an email message being sent over and over and over again to friends, family members, coworkers, and social associates. This message claims to have the “smoking gun” that Barack Obama was NOT born in the United States and therefore CANNOT be President.

Unfortunately this “smoking gun” is riddled with so many inaccuracies that it cannot be taken seriously. Plus, when you examine the source of the so-called “smoking gun” you learn that it was nothing more than an April Fool’s Day joke from 2009. Even the website itself proudly says “Really Now, We Do Not Exist”.

And yet it doesn’t matter… because that same email will be spread over and over and over again to like-minded people who will believe without any additional proof put before them that it is real, and that the Office of the President of the United States is being occupied by someone who is ineligible to be in that position in the first place.

Even worse, it is merely one of several messages spread using manipulated images and wild rumors spreading the same message. And no matter how many times it is debunked and refuted and proven to be false, these messages will continue to be spread around and accepted as gospel.

Why?

Because it is convenient for certain people to believe it to be true.

Let’s get brutally honest here… some people in this country CANNOT get it into their heads that Barack Obama, a Democrat of mixed-race, actually WON the 2008 Presidential Election and is now President of the United States. They REFUSE to admit that he even could be a contender for the office, much less win it. But they cannot out-and-out SAY that because it looks bad for themselves. So rather than admit to it, they have to latch onto ANYTHING that could possibly negate the election.

They NEED to believe that Barack Obama somehow is not the legitimate leader of the United States because then they don’t have to worry about disrespecting the office that they would otherwise worship. They can bad-mouth the man without worrying about bad-mouthing the office or the government, because, in their minds, he doesn’t belong there anyway.

And so when someone comes up with the suggestion that Barack Obama wasn’t really born in this country, and offers ANY kind of evidence - even if that evidence is fake - they will immediately accept it as truth without any hesitation. They won’t fact-check it. They won’t look it up to see if it is true. They won’t do these things because it just happens to fit into their biases. They will, instead, straighten up, smile, and as they forward that message on to everyone they know, they will tell themselves that their biases have just been vindicated.

Mind you this is not just limited to Barack Obama. Democrats were saying something similar with George W. Bush in the last election. They couldn’t get it out of their minds that their champion, Al Gore, LOST the election in 2000 through the fiasco in Florida. And so they would be favorable to anything that could suggest ballot tampering, anything to suggest vote manipulation, anything to suggest that the results of the election were rigged in favor of the GOP.

And it’s not just involving politics. We do the same thing with religion, with our favorite sports team, with our friends, and certainly with family. We filter reality through our biases, refusing to accept anything that could detract from our affection of something, and all the while eager to accept even the mere rumor of impropriety of those things we object to.

But when it comes to President Obama, the level of manipulation that is being employed to validate that bias against him is borderline obsessive. Unlike the Democrats with George W. Bush, the opponents of Barack Obama seem to have no stopping point, no depth that is too low for them to sink to.

And while the obvious solution would be to simply make Barack Obama’s Hawaiian complete birth certificate publicly available, this commentator suspects that even THAT would not quell the rumors and electronic forgeries. Once made public, the doubters and deniers would simply claim that it was a forgery, otherwise it would have been made available years ago. That would again open the door for them to unleash yet another barrage of false and carefully doctored documents spread electronically through those already prejudiced to accept them as truths.

That makes someone like myself wonder… how far WILL this go? And at what level will the manipulation and lies sink to before the reach the level of the absurd, where they become the equivalent to the cartoon-like thinking that you can defy gravity by simply running very fast and not looking down?

We may choose to decide which parts of reality we wish to accept, but that doesn’t mean that we are not still bound by the parts that we refuse to accept. If you run off a cliff, then you are going to fall, no matter how fast you run, or whether or not you look down. You can get a hundred billion people to believe that our moon is made of cheese and that our world is flat, but that doesn’t mean that either of them really are such. Likewise, no matter how many people question the legitimacy of the person who is currently the President of the United States, that doesn’t avoid the fact that what they are engaging in is willful disrespect of the office and of the system of governing itself.

3 comments:

Carrie said...

Don't forget the "death panels". It's just like a spoiled middle school queen bee who was scorned by another student. And we all know how vindictive teenagers can be.

Anonymous said...

Speaking selective reality of these groups, here's a youtube series that's pretty funny about tea party hysteria (http://www.youtube.com/user/MockTheDummy1)

David 2 said...

Mock the Dummy is HILARIOUS!