By Blake Bouza
In 2017, the second-most hated phrase in America was “fake news” according to a survey conducted by The Marist Poll. It came second only to “whatever.”
We have Pope Francis to thank for the blurb on the front page.
“I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into – no offense intended – the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true,” he said. “A lot of damage can be done.”
Coprophilia is the sexual fixation on fecal matter, and given the state of news information and the way we consume it today, I don’t think we can fault the leader of the Catholic church for using such terminology.
The state of disinformation our world finds itself in, I think, can be attributed quite easily to the Internet and our newfound interconnectivity, and perhaps the general inclination to believe things we hear the first time.
Entire communities exist online though that can strengthen and support ideas that are objectively and universally accepted as wrong or unproven.
Let us examine perhaps the 21st century’s most glaring example, which also happens to have been the 5th century’s hot-button issue: the “supposed” roundness of the earth.
If this is the first time you are hearing of this issue, I would like to express my deepest condolences for opening your eyes to the strangest, most absurd controversy you will hear this year.
A rapidly growing number of people are taking hold of the idea that the Earth we are living on is, in fact, flat, as our enlightened ancestors of hundreds of years ago believed.
As a reminder, these ancestors’ greatest hits include: feeding people to lions for entertainment, burning supposed witches at stake, and, thanks to Roman propaganda, believing their emperor was also a literal god! Good times, right?
The way that the current flat earth movement claims that we are on a flat earth with none of the 50 space agencies, both privately and publicly funded, world governments, and International Space Station knowing about it is because we are being lied to by these entities.
The reason for such a conspiracy? No one knows.
I sought help with this conundrum in the form of three Vol State professors: Charles Hicks, associate professor of biology; Dr. Clark Hutton, chair of philosophy; and Dr. Philip Clifford.
I asked these gentlemen how people could be deluded into believing something like the flat earth hypothesis.
“Set out to prove something, and you’ll find a way. Set out to disprove something, and you may fail,” Clifford said.
If it can’t be disproven, Clifford put forth, it is a tautology, an idea that supports itself.
Everyone had this one guy that said the sky was falling. I called this person the village idiot.
“Now they have their own village,” Hutton said.
“They’re no longer isolated,” Hicks said, “they have a platform.”
“Abe Lincoln once said, if you call a tail a leg, how many legs does the dog have?” Clifford said. “Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one.”
In the next couple weeks we’ll get more into the why and how people believe things and what makes people disregard information with the help of the gracious professors above.
Email me! What do you think of our state of information?