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Memories of the 28th Century

Persistence of Lies

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A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes.

So who really did say it? Benham's Book of Quotations credits the line to Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher and the author of "John Ploughman's Talk; or, Plain Advice for Plain People." His exact words were: "A lie travels round the world, while Truth is putting on her boots."
More information and sources for the speed of lies.

I was thinking about the persistence of lies, rather than their speed, when I thought of this adage, and it has been wrongly attributed more often than not for quite a while, so it is also a demonstration of the persistence of lies, so this is the quote that I really wanted:
“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
Pudd'nhead Wilson, Chapter 7
And it appears that it really is from Mark Twain. I came to think about this problem when someone posted the libel of Jeffrey Amherst and smallpox infested blankets in the local Starbuck and insisted that Jeffery Amherst had been responsible for that example of biological warfare. That libel seems to have been around since the 1820’s; although the original source of the libel is uncertain, but Parkman included something along those lines in one of his histories. The actual events were slightly complicated, but Trent, the commander of the local militia at Fort Pitt did hand over some blankets and such from the smallpox hospital to some the Indians who were laying siege to the settlement. There was a mild outbreak of smallpox that Summer, and there is doubt whether the blankets were involved at all, because they may have been too well aged to spread the disease. But regardless of that, Jeffrey Amherst had nothing to do with the matter, was not aware o it at the time, and it is uncertain whether he ever learned about that attempt to spread smallpox. But the accusation has been around for nearly 200 years.
My second blog post on the matter:
My first blog on the matter:
And the article that includes all of the details: The British, the Indians, and Smallpox: What Actually Happened at Fort Pitt in 1763? This site has considerable detail about the whole matter.

Another example of the lie having more lives than a cat is the matter of Anthropogenic Climate Change. That has been shot down many times by actual scientists and the people who make their livings for ACC bring it back from the dead with another piece of pseudo-science.

Yet another persistent lie is the matter of cholesterol causing heart disease. That was dreamed up in the 1950's, and the initial dream appears to have been in good faith although it was poor science. Doubts about Cholesterol as a causative factor started being brought up almost immediately, but it wasn't until the late 1980's that the whole argument about cholesterol was put together, and it became clear that cholesterol was innocent.
The cholesterol lie has been around and undoubtedly a lie for between twenty-five and thirty years. Anyone who is interested can find in a few minutes that it is a lie, and even the NIH has published that cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Perrier was doing some ads earlier, but they weren't as effective as the Nestle ads from the early 90's.

Another of the lies that came to mind was the hydration myth. I won't go into the history of that, but it was a marketing campaign that worked better than Nestle ever dreamed. There have been other marketing campaigns that worked better than expected, but I can't think of any more right now, except for Paul Bunyan.

Then, if we go back in time we have the great religious scams. Those did much better than the founders expected. L. Ron Hubbard died a rich man from his Scientology scam. Joseph Smith died relatively young, so he didn't benefit from his Mormonism scam. Whoever started Christianity probably died before it really kicked in, so he (or they) didn't know what they had created. If Abraham actually existed, then he missed the big time for his religion, but that was almost four thousand years ago, and it's still going.

Then there are the lies and fake news that Trump creates on a daily basis. I think that most people have learned that if it comes from Trump, then it almost certainly is false, but there are still some people who believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD's, so there probably are people who believe Trump and will continue to believe him for many years to come.

I don't know how to bring the light of truth to those lies, but I saw a suggestion that one might try to use advertising methods, and that might work, but I don't know how to implement that, except to get the word out about something else being the actual fact. If I had as bully a pulpit as Trump has, then some people might believe me.

Updated 07-07-2017 at 08:34 AM by PeterL