Okay, I’m a history buff. Have been since I was knee-high to a silkworm. I will now share with you the most important thing I have learned:
Everything you know is wrong.
Not just you. Me, too. And those several people on the planet who are not reading this. In 1916, Henry Ford told the Chicago Tribune, “History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.” Whereas I am loathe to agree with anything that anti-labor super-bigot ever said, I think any careful examination will lend credence to this view.
A more commonly deployed reaction to “facts from friends” got its start in 1932 on The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air radio show. Vaudevillian Jack Pearl played the part of Baron Munchausen, classic teller of tall tales. When his veracity was questioned, the Baron replied in a thick German accent, “Vas you dere, Sharlie?”
Commercial radio, which hit its century mark this past November, greatly accelerated the spread of both Information and its sister, Miss Information. By then, newspapers were doing a fine job of spreading both, but even with the telegraph and seven editions a day news was reported a handful of items at a time. Sometimes — not often enough — corrections were noted in later editions, but we learn in our high school journalism class that whatever you read, hear, or see as “breaking news” has yet to enjoy the benefit of fact-checking, or even of knowing the full story. Today, if you hear something on broadcast news and they are claiming it’s a breaking story (and they claim everything is a breaking story), do not confuse it with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I read a lot of old newspapers, and I do not believe we are subjected to more incorrect and often wacky “news” today than we were a century ago. However, because “news” now travels unchecked at the speed of the internet, it seems like there’s a lot more truthiness because everybody knows something about the story, even while the body is still warm, so to speak. Unconfirmed stories gather credibility because all at once everybody seems to know about everything whether it’s true or not.
If feces is fertilizer for plants, then bullshit is the fertilizer for fake news. Reason goes straight out the window. What kind of idiot could actually believe that the Democratic Party is running a cannibalistic pederasty ring out of the basement of a Washington, DC pizza joint — that doesn’t even have a basement? Well, lots of idiots do. Perhaps millions. You don’t have to believe this particular Munchausen-on-crack tale in order to disbelieve the 2020 election, but there are plenty of other stories that thrive in this neighborhood of the absurd. The 74,216,154 Trumpsters can take their choice of such folderol. And they do.
Virtually everything that comes out of Tucker Carlson’s mouth is bullshit, and much of that is fantastically absurd. His moral comedy show attracts some four million viewers each night. Do they all think what he’s saying is true? Well, no, I’m sure there are some — perhaps many — who watch it because it is so ludicrous, like any other so-called “reality show.” Others are simply grateful the loon stopped wearing his bowties. But I think it is fair to assume that the majority of his flock is joyously lapping up his brain diarrhea.
It’s a process. Truth-finding takes patience and research, and you start with questioning everything anybody tosses into the transom of your mind. Lose your attitudes and your convictions — all of them. You’re looking for something pure and nearly unattainable, and in so doing you cannot burden your quest with preconceptions. Get real: if something sounds wacky, if if seems too good to be true, if it seems to defy gravity, it’s probably bull.
In her book F*ck Love, author Tarryn Fisher said “You don’t start searching for truth until something goes terribly wrong and you realize that you need it. There’s no going back after that.” That’s the truth.
People capture Pokémon all the time, but it takes effort and dedication. Truth is the substance of fact, so when you encounter something that seems to be a fact start with asking the question “Vas you dere, Sharlie?”