We are now at a point in politics, a new book warns, where reality has lost its authority: Facts are considered a matter of opinion.
I put up that post about the ‘Age of Stupidity’ too quickly, or I could have brought up this item over at the Daily Beast, which also touches on the matter of belief vs. facts.
The writer of the article believes that is due almost entirely to a lack of some kind of authority figure.
I don’t believe that’s true, however. We are in a situation now where a significant number of people base their beliefs not on actual fact or evidence, but on what someone tells them to believe, exactly such an ‘authority figure’ that the writer claims we need.
But we have ‘authority figures’, and they are part of the problem. The anti-vaccination crowd that puts it’s mindless belief in the ‘authority figures’ of B-list celebrities who know nothing of science or biology, the climate change deniers who blatantly ignore facts and evidence, and spout opinions based on ridiculous conspiracy theories, quasi-supernatural explanations or outright lies that offer them some kind of financial or other personal gain. The list goes on and on.
Charles Sykes, one of the right wing radio ranters here in the state, did an interview in which he explained how this is largely the fault of himself and people like him. For years now, he and others like him, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Jones and the other far right pundits, have been deliberately doing everything they can to undermine any kind of ‘authority figure’ that the public might rely on for accurate information. They’ve worked hard to undermine the mainstream media, government agencies, even science itself in order to further their own agenda.
The mainstream media itself has to take some of the blame for this current climate. In its effort to generate a never ending string of clickbait headlines, generate controversy where there is none, cause fear and panic in order to pump up its ratings and profits, it’s given voice to loony conspiracy theories, blatantly inaccurate statements by politicians and others, ridiculous health claims and I don’t know what all else. It’s failed to call out politicians over outright lies. It has just — just failed. In everything except generating profits, of course.