Welcome to #First100Days!
The #First100Days series will “bear witness” to the next 13 weeks of the Trump administration and the climate in America and then respond openly in writing, dialogue, and debate in the hopes of fostering better communication among writers and partisans alike (although the essays and pieces do not have to be political in nature). We’re looking to help give voice to honest and thematic essays from all layers of the political spectrum and across all GMP sections.
All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily of Good Men Media, The Good Men Project, or our editors.
Oh, words. My favorite things.
And facts—let’s not forget them.
But week one of the new American Executive administration had us all thinking about George Orwell’s 1984, which, as an English teacher, is never far from my mind when thinking and writing about politics.
So here are the 3 words and phrases you need to know and use until the White House comes at us with more phrases like “alternative facts” and “that’s what the President believes.”
Most people think a factoid is a small fact (how could there be a “small” fact anyway?) when, in fact, it’s something that is repeated so much that it becomes accepted as a fact.
Beware! Thanks to our hyper-partisan, confirmational bias-geared minds, we are all repeating things all the time that aren’t true. But we can’t let that happen to the highest levels of government and journalism.
Alt-facts or Alternative facts
“Figures often beguile me,” Mark Twain wrote, “particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'”
The media now has to walk the line between calling out a lie or a falsehood in that when you call someone a liar, you’re accusing them of purposefully deceiving the public.
But can we blame someone for bad facts, alternative facts, ill-reported facts, biased evidence, and facts that are ignored because belief trumps facts?
YES. YES WE CAN BLAME.
Yes, we can hold the media’s feet to the fire.
Yes, we can speak truth to power.
I’m not saying—or I don’t want to say—that the system is rigged, but the system is rigged. But I’m not really saying that right now.
See what I did there? I said and asserted something without outright saying or writing it.
Politicians, pundits, and mafia bosses alike do this with great ease and expertise.
Beware! When a speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it or denying that it should be brought up, you’re in for some slick brainwashing and bamboozlement.
Your own brain is seeing things, literally
In the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, street artist Shepard Fairey summed up the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, where we take notice of something (meme, car, art, sign, logo, icon) as we see it more, as well as notice that we’re seeing something more when we’re seeing it (or not) everywhere (whether it has value or not):
The more [it’s] out there, the more important is seems. The more important it seems, the more people want to know what it is, the more they ask each other, and it gains real power from perceived power.
What’s happening is that our selective attention unconsciously keeps an eye out for the thing (meme, pussyhat, safety pin), and then our confirmation bias reassures us that each sighting is further proof of our impression that the thing has gained volume, value, or omnipresence.
So be careful out there—whether you’re arguing real facts with real people or dismissing damn lies put out by known liars.
Read Jeremy McKeen every week here on The Good Men Project!
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