Are we bearing witness to the death of Truth?
When seemingly credible sources present contradictory "facts," all that's left is to play Taps.
For a few years, I had myself a nice little content strategy consulting business. I quit not because of a lack of clients, but because Sjogren’s Disease caused my eyesight to be unreliable. Sometimes I could see the laptop screen; sometimes I couldn’t. And I wasn’t going to take on work when I wasn’t sure I could deliver by the deadline. (Or if I couldn’t tell the difference between a period and a comma, which is pretty much the norm by now.)
Back to the topic of Truth…
I primarily wrote for business blogs. Some companies wanted fluff, but most wanted content that customers and/or experts in their field — not to mention Google — would find valuable and trustworthy. That meant doing lots of research.
And, to get to the point, if I thought a source might be the tiniest bit biased, or if a claim seemed just a little too pat, I didn’t use it unless I could find a second source. I didn’t always link to it; it just made me feel better.
Now, everything has changed
Looking back, it’s almost laughable how much time and effort I put into making sure every little factlet in a blog post was verifiably true. Today, determining whether any particular story or fact is true is next to impossible. And I’m not talking about the price of eggs; I’m talking about the BIG stuff. The stuff we used to take for granted because we believed that the people in charge of such things were, for the most part, truthful. Even if it was only because they were afraid of being caught. Or because some things were just…objectively true.
But now sources we used to accept as credible tell us completely different stories. Some people are happy to float on the wave of confirmation bias, but for those of us who really want to know what’s true and what isn’t — who walk around with this creepy unease in our brains and under our skin because we don’t know what’s real and what isn’t, and who see no way to find out—well, it kind of sucks.
It all started with Pluto
Because everybody knows that planets aren’t supposed to change into planetoids or dwarf planets or whatever overnight just because some academic said so. Accepting that without question was the beginning of the end.
If only there had been a collective cry of “Bullshit!,” we might not be holding witness to the death of truth.
But there wasn’t, and look where we are now
Truth is on its deathbed, and the CDC and Anthony Fauci fighting over the corpse.
The list of “truths” handed to us by the agencies we depend on that turned out not to be true is depressing. And I might come back and add to this later. For now, I’m going to focus on the ones dominating today’s headlines: climate change and COVID.
There are few things that can get you banned, ridiculed, or even shunned faster than questioning the narrative on climate change. I’m not a climate change denier, so no need to tar and feather me. But I do believe that most people accept the existing narrative — the earth is warming, and it’s our fault — without question. Just about every scientific institution and government in the world says so, so it must be true, right?
Not necessarily. Here are a few things worth considering.
The scientific community almost lost the fight when they called it “global warming.” Horrible marketing when they’re the ones that should know there’s a difference between climate and weather.
When everybody “knows” something, that’s a huge red flag for me. It provokes my hole-poking instinct. And there are a lot of holes to poke.
For example, you’ve probably heard that 97% of climate experts agree on global warning. That “statistic” is based on a 2013 Tweet from Barack Obama saying, “97% of climate experts believe that global warming is real, man-made, and dangerous.” But the survey he was referring to didn’t even ask that question. But he said it, so it became real.
Except that it’s not. When the American Meteorological Society surveyed its 7,000 members, they got 1,862 responses. Only 52% agreed with the IPCC’s position that global warming is happening and is manmade.
Even the scientific community’s most revered gods can fall
The IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is a United Nations organization that’s considered the gold standard when it comes to climate change and humanity’s contributions to it. The reason it’s held in such high esteem is because its reports are peer-reviewed: read, discussed, modified and approved by an international body of experts. When these scientists sign off on a report’s content, they’re putting their reputations on the line.
In 1995, however, there was a little oopsie. The final draft — the report that was released to people who would use it to make policy decisions and such — wasn’t the same as the draft the scientists had signed off on.
Frederick Seitz, who wrote about the incident in the Wall Street Journal, said, “In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report.”
“Peer-reviewed” reports aren’t supposed to be changed after the peers review them. It defeats the purpose. But this IPCC report changed and/or deleted 15 sections, all of which raised questions about climate change.
Here are just a few examples, taken from Seitz’s Wall Street Journal article:
- "None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases."
"No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes."
"Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced."
Lies (whether outright or by omission) from revered institutions are a gut-punch to Truth.
Funding for research grants is biased
Climate research overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that our planet is warming and human activity is at least partially responsible.
Hmm…could that be due to our old friend “follow the money”?
Research costs money. A lot of that money comes from the government. And now that our government is completely invested in the “It’s serious, it’s our fault, and we need to fix it before we all die,” narrative, it’s unlikely that grant proposals asking for money to do research that contradicts that are going to get a penny.
Other grant money comes from corporations and other organizations. They, too, have an agenda. Does anybody believe it’s even remotely possible that climate research funded by a green energy company won’t be just a little biased toward conclusions that support the need for the company’s products?
I could go on and on, but I’m not trying to prove that global warming isn’t real. My point is that trusted sources:
Get things wrong
Act in ways that further their agenda even if it undermines Truth (like pharmaceutical companies funding university research on drug safety and efficacy, just to get away from climate change for a minute).
And then there’s the fact that, even though I spent tons of time researching this, evaluating sources, and linking to the ones that seemed to be the most trustworthy, I still can’t say with 100% conviction that any of it is true. Because…see the bullet points above.
COVID didn’t only infect our bodies; it infected our social fabric. It was already fraying at the edges, and COVID ripped it apart, dividing us on everything from how it started to what to do about it. I almost don’t want to get in to it, but recent revelations make it hard to ignore.
Here are the things we’ve been debating for the past three years…things that led to a worldwide shutdown of normal human activity, shunning of friends and family members who made different choices, and the final death spiral of Truth.
How and where did COVID start?
It always seemed silly to me how mad people got when somebody suggested COVID leaked from the Wuhan virology lab. Seriously — what are the odds that a novel coronavirus would just happen to naturally make its way into a city with a very advanced (and, yes, American-funded) virology lab that focused on gain-of-function research for coronaviruses?
Let’s take a minute to look at it like a high school logic problem:
COVID-19 was a novel coronavirus
COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China
Wuhan, China is home to the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, which, according to some sources, did gain-of-function research on coronaviruses
COVID-19 started in a wet market
Nonetheless, what seemed obvious to me was deemed racist by most. So I just quietly giggled behind my oh-so-necessary mask.
Then, on February 27, the Department of Energy released a statement that they believed the COVID pandemic was the result of a lab leak. Their conclusion was the result of new information, although they rated it as “low confidence.” However, back in August of 2021, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul released a report that said a “preponderance of the evidence” indicated the virus was the result of a lab leak.
The FBI agrees with the DOE and McCaul. After the DOE released its statement, FBI director Cristopher Wrap said, "The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”
The National Intelligence Council and four other agencies within the intelligence community say the virus naturally originated in a Wuhan wet market.
Who are you going to believe? And how will you decide?
And that’s exactly the point. We shouldn’t have to “decide” what truth is.
To mask or not to mask?
I hated the masks. My Sjogren’s makes my mouth extremely dry, and the mask didn’t help. I can only go so long without drinking something, or my mouth gets so dry people can’t understand me when I talk.
One thing the masking mandate did do for me was make me realize the only reason I carried a purse was for lipstick. I pay for everything with my phone. With a mask, there was no need for lipstick, and therefore no need for a purse.
All joking aside, I can’t remember another issue that’s been so divisive across our entire society. (Well, that and locking the world down.) School board meetings looked like Jerry Springer episodes. People excommunicated family members who didn’t think it was necessary to mask. I read one post from a woman who said she’d probably never eat in a restaurant again (because, obviously, you can’t mask while eating). Another said she’d probably never leave her house again, (although I’m guessing there might have been some pre-COVID problems in that case).
I’m not even going to get into the lockdowns. And my eyes are starting to poop out on me, so I’m going to cut to the chase on masks. Cochrane, renowned for being the gold standard of medical research methodology, determined that the effectiveness of masking was …wait for it … zero.
To be fair, user error was a factor. On the other hand, pre-COVID, the CDC’s pandemic response plan didn’t even include masking. Then they did a complete turnaround, insisting on masking for everyone, right down to 2-year-olds.
Moreover, in a matter of incredible coincidence, a UN group wargamed a global pandemic in November and December of 2019 (and as far as I know, it really was a coincidence). You can watch the whole thing here, but you won’t hear anything about mask mandates, and the death rate for the virus in their wargame was 7%.
What could possibly have made them change their minds? The whole point of having a response plan in place is so you don’t have to make important decisions in the eye of a hurricane.
Disclaimer: I’m not trying to convince anyone not to mask. I’m utterly unqualified to do that. I’m just pointing out that there is contradictory information from what should be trusted sources. It’s up to you to decide what to do with that.
Long COVID and vaccine mandates
I really am running out of steam here, and I know you’re all capable of doing your own research (never trust anybody who tells you you aren’t!). Let’s just say that, somewhere over the last few months, stories of Long COVID morphed into stories of vaccine injuries. Long COVID was always just a theory, anyway. There’s hard data on the vaccine injuries. And, yet, vaccine mandates are still a thing.
I’m tired, and my vision changes every time I blink, so it’s time for me to wrap this up. I know I’ve gotten a little sloppy here at the end. But it was never my intention to convince you of any position. My intention is to bemoan the fact that Truth is apparently dead. Or irrelevant. Or both. And as a writer who has always relied on finding trustworthy sources, that makes me want to go curl up with my dog and a glass of wine.
I don’t have any answers. I just didn’t want Truth to die alone and unmourned.