The Rise of the New Neocons

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Or would that be Neo-Neocons? And does it matter? I keep hearing these weird things, statements that don’t really make sense. We are living in a post-truth, post fact world. Those are alternative facts.

I love that one. Alternative facts. Things we used to call wrong, or lies, or even bullshit.

Probably, I should recognize that it’s been coming for a long time, or maybe it’s been here for a long time. I’ve long been of the understanding that truth is in the eye of the beholder. Fact, however, is not. But, apparently, both sides of the democratic political spectrum believe that if you shout something loud enough and long enough, it becomes the truth. It becomes a fact. The political Right is a whole lot more effective at it, hence the post title.

Several million illegal votes were cast in the most recent US election. This is a statement being made by the freshly inaugurated US president over and over, and has been since the votes were tallied. I don’t know whether or not he actually believes that or if he and his new administration are just trying to distract the rest of the populace from something else, or maybe just trying to scare them. Oh my God! Illegal votes! We should make it harder for people to be able to vote, that will make it harder for illegal votes to be cast. Except, after extensive studies by a variety of people and institutes in the US, illegal votes have been a teeny tiny fraction of the total, on the order of one every few million. Not enough to sway anything. Or even notice.

Crooked Hillary.

They’re coming for our guns.

A wall will keep us safe.

Global warming is a Chinese conspiracy.

If you disagree with someone who happens to be Muslim, or don’t like some aspect of the belief system, you’re an Islamaphobe. (Needed one from the left.)

If you don’t like the policies of a particular middle eastern nation, you’re an anti-semite.

Actually, since I’m Canadian, I should come up with a couple of examples from my own country. Things aren’t as bad on my side of the Canada–US border, but there are certainly people trying to take pages from the same book and push us in that direction. I thought, when we voted out the Harper Conservatives in the last last election, that might get better for a while. I was wrong. I see normal people in my Facebook timeline, or occasionally on twitter, whom I know are Canadian, constantly posting things that have been so thoroughly disproven and debunked, but match their own biases. They keep posting them because they’ve been told something so many times that it must be true.

Refugees get more money per month than retired seniors. No, no they don’t.

Our provincial government is creating a new tax to screw the middle class again. No, no it isn’t.

The Prime Minister hired an extra nanny completely at extra taxpayer expense. No, no he didn’t.

And it creeps into other aspects of society and social awareness.

Vaccinations cause autism. No, no they don’t.

The government is trying to poison us with chemtrails. No, no they aren’t.

Organic food is always better. No, no it isn’t. Read labels.

Things I’ve read recently indicate that there are apparently evolutionary advantages to digging in and refusing to accept facts, that it’s human nature to become more emotionally invested in your point of view, and to hold onto it harder and harder the more ridiculous and disproven it is. I’m trying to understand how there’s an evolutionary advantage to either of those. I’m trying to understand how digging in and refusal to face reality can be a survival trait.

How is it an advantage to believe something that is factually untrue?

Does this come back to freedom of expression in some way? I don’t really care what you believe. Think what you want, write what you want, say what you want. But, don’t be surprised if I tell you you’re wrong, or if I do it again and again and again.

I freely comment (or use that little laughter icon on Facebook) on things that conflict with reality. Just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve had mild arguments over alien conspiracy theories (I’m against, because there’s no actual evidence), vaccinations (I’m pro, because that’s where the science is), 9-11 being an inside job (give it up, already), chemtrails (how can anyone treat this seriously?), and “marijuana cures everything” (legitimate science has shown pain management and antianxiety applications, as well as reductions in certain kinds of seizures, which is awesome, but it doesn’t actually cure anything). It’s cost me several Facebook friends, but maybe I’ve helped other people see that facts are actually important, that it doesn’t matter how you feel about something so much as what’s actually the case. To borrow a quote, science doesn’t care what you believe.

Neither do facts.

Scientifically, philosophically, socially, politically, stay grounded in reality, and be well, everyone.

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