Thomas Paine wrote these words in “The American Crisis,” a series of thirteen pamphlets written between 1776 and 1783 and read in the American colonies and to the Continental Army in their fight against the British Crown for America’s independence. I discovered this quote while reading “The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP” by Terry Heaton who served as producer of Pat Roberton’s 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network during the rise of evangelical Christianity’s alignment with the Republican Party.
“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.”
We live in the “post-truth era,” so much so the word “post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionary’s international word of 2016. It’s definition? An adjective defined as ‘related to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’ While existing in the public lexicon for over a decade, observers noted an unusual spike in its use throughout 2016, the year the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union and Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States.
As educated citizens, we simply cannot accept this as reality. We have learned that a foreign power launched an attack on our electoral process by targeting voters with fake stories about one of the candidates in order to influence their decision on election day. Foreign adversaries, with an ulterior motive, sought to influence our presidential election and it worked.
But the 2016 election is just the tip of an ever increasingly melted iceberg. The volume of human beings in cyber-space today that feel no guilt at lying is beyond measure. Worse are the TV personalities who call themselves journalists; personalities who are mere influence peddlers and hacks that spew hate and bitterness for millions of dollars in ad buys each night. Their audience learns little about an issue except that their side is right and the other is wrong; not just wrong but a danger to America and society at large.
I am unsure that the post-truth era is reversible, nor am I confident that the issues associated with playing to emotion rather than fact can be fixed. But I refuse to acquiesce to its inevitability and will continue to call out fiction, lies and those who spread them, loudly and publically.
Truth and the facts that define it. That is the objective of this site. Facts and emotion are not incongruent; they can be complementary. But the priority has to be the facts because, without the facts, there can be no truth.