When the internet first came along I thought it was going to be a great tool for commerce and the sharing of information.
Little did we know it would become something else – the dry grasslands for the brush fire of false information.
Those of us who are not tech geeks have only just begun to learn how easily it is for us to be manipulated by dark web entities who can completely alter the course of information.
This is a huge problem for many reasons, but most of all because it threatens the very foundation of human society – the quest for truth.
In the past 30 years the truth has become maleable – i.e. bendable.
This reached a tipping point in 2016 during the presidential election. Donald Trump gained popularity and eventually won the presidency because of a volatile cocktail of $2 billion in free live news coverage, outrageous antics, and a well-orchestrated campaign of misinformation.
Donald Trump is the P.T. Barnum of the 21st Century. Barnum, the great circus impresario of the 19th Century, once claimed “there’s a sucker born every minute.” Barnum’s words have proven to be true. No other president in history has been so corrupted, so mired in controversy and so blatant in his constant shifting narrative of falsehoods.
But don’t just blame Trump. Since 1980, the Republican Party has sold a bill of goods to working class Americans built upon the messages of jobs, pro-life/anti-abortion, pro-Christianity and pro-war. In 2012 and 2016 it was “repeal and replace Obamacare.” These bellicose positions have been used to cause visceral reactions in several key demographics, especially the evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic right.
The Tea Party came along during the first decade of the new millennium. This group was made up of the harshest adherents of the right-wing base. They eschewed science in favor of religion. They rejected learned debate in favor of jingoism.
This gelled into the movement that pushed Donald Trump to the presidency. The problem with this movement is it’s based upon false perceptions and lies and fake conspiracy theories.
Like all totalitarian leaders in history, Trump vilifies the media as “fake news.” In many cases,
the media has to admit in some instances it earned this. Frankly, when CNN, FOXNews and MSNBC gave Trump 24 hour live coverage – all in the name of big ratings – they created the biggest fake news story of all time. They elevated a reality show TV star to a level of credibility he had never earned in life or in business.
The problem is now the truth is dead, sacrificed on the pyre of Republican and Democrat advocacy “news,” and conspiracy theories abound.
Truth is now in the eye of the beholder. The truth of the left is different from the truth of the right. This is affected by something called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is where a person already has a fixed idea about a subject, and that person cherry picks the facts to support his version of the truth and reject all others, even if these other facts show him that his fixed idea is wrong.
This makes for a dangerous situation for a person charged with a crime. In this era of post-truth subjectivity, jurors will wrongly believe that they can concoct their own truths, cherry pick the facts to support their preconceived conclusions, and then stick to their personal “truth.”
How then does a jury reach a just verdict?
This loss of truth is the biggest threat to your freedom.
(Required by Alabama law: No representation is made that the quality of legal services is greater than other lawyers.)