This morning I was reading an article in the New York Times called, “The Gradual Extinction of Accepted Truths.” Among many other things, journalist George Johnson argued that with the proliferation of information, truth is so fragmented, it seems that there is no such thing.
“The creationist battle against evolution is fierce and more sophisticated than ever. But, it’s not just organized religions that are considering their own alternate truths. On one front after another, the hard-won consensus of science is also expected to accommodate personal beliefs, religions or otherwise about the safety of vaccines, GMO crops, fluoridation, or cell phone radio waves, along with the validity of global climate change.”
I have seen this play out. Who knows the truth anymore? With specialized news sources, and website, opinion based reporting, and the powerful mainstream ever accused of bias, what is truth? Every day my Facebook feed is full of news stories decrying evil conspiratist government, and talking about food safety. What is right?
Is my government truly evil? I am not sure. I can scour the Internet all day, and find thousands of voices citing evidence that it is. But, I can find millions of voices citing evidence that it isn’t. What is truth?
What can I eat? I can drive myself crazy trying to find out what’s safe to eat. I know, I have seen people do it, agonizing over every food choice, and analyzing what food their food ate to make that decision. I have heard these people decry that there is no real food anymore, and we have to search high and low for true food. Is this true? Well, I don’t know.
Is it good to vaccinate children? Is it safe to drink the water? Who knows anymore?! And to evaluate our evidence, it seems our evidence needs evidence. And, so we are in this constant state of critique.
“In this epistemological warfare, those with the most power are accused of imposing their version of reality—the ‘dominant paradigm,’—on the rest leaving the weaker to fight back with formulations of their own. Everything becomes a version,” Johnson continues.
And logically, with all of this confusion, what’s the next step? We stop listening. We don’t know who to believe. So we turn all of the voices off. And so, is this how we become the dreaded “sheeple?” Those who don’t know what to believe?
I don’t know. Maybe we can’t really handle truth. Maybe there is no such thing. Maybe truth is an illusion. There are only opinion and perspective. I guess this is the end to the 24 Hour News cycle—we fill it with so many competing opinions, we don’t know who to trust or why. So, we live, with fifty shades of truth.