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Memories of the 28th Century

Eliminating Lies

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In the past, it seemed like most people used facts as the bases of their opinions; Marketers usually based their campaigns in fact; even politicians worked from facts. And people who disagreed usually started from contrary facts. Recently, it has seemed like most people ignore facts, just saying what their fantasies dictated.

It might be that I was deluded in the past, and it could be that I have been mistaken more recently, but I think it would be safe to say that even opinions were based on opinions in the past. A major change that has come that along in parallel with the changed attitude toward lies has been the attitude toward mental illness and mental abilities in general. There are people who assert that mental illnesses do not exist, and to a significant degree this has become the official view. And the concept that if someone's delusions are real, then their lies must be facts has developed. As a result, there are people who believe all sorts of ideas, and some of those ideas could lead to great problems, if people acted on them, and even people in high government positions believe things that are not based on reality and that can be dangerous.

Most of what are called conspiracy theories are lies, some dangerous, that are agreed upon by many people. As one example, the people who are opposed to vaccinations are an excellent example of people who have an idea that is based in fantasy and is potentially dangerous.

There are other pseudo-medical lies that many people accept as facts. The most notable include the hydration myth, and the lies about animal fats and cholesterol, which are derived from bad medical research. Unfortunately, when medical research is found to be fallacious, the researchers aren't required to inform each individual who has learned the mistaken information as if it were factual, so the false information continues on for decades or maybe longer.

Here in the U.S.A. disseminating falsehoods and marketing fluff usually are not crimes, so there is no incentive for the creators of such falsehoods to correct their errors. In some cases, the purveyors of lies continue profiting from the lies for decades after they are debunked. For example, after Nestle Corp started buying spring water companies in the U.S. they created the hydration myth to get people to waste their money on bottled water, and their sales skyrocketed, and the sales haven't plummeted even though the hydration myth has been shown to be full of holes. Unfortunately, they also pump the aquifers dry and create problems for people who live near their wells.

Marketing fluff and many other kinds of lies are protected by law, but fraud is fraud, and there should be no protection for liars. If someone makes a claim about a product, then there should be proof of the claim. If someone simply claims that someone if good, new, tasty, or something else that is non-specific; thatís a different matter. But we should demand truth in public expression, and people and companies can learn how to say sweet nothings about their products.

If someone asserts, for example, that vaccinations are bad, then that person should be required to show scientific evidence to back their claims. Similarly, the people who develop vaccines are required to demonstrated the safety and efficacy of their product, and for vaccines such evidence has been piling up for centuries and is overwhelming in its support for the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Other product claims should be treated the same way; although there must be reasonable practices, and things that should be self-explanatory should have an easy treatment.

This came to mind, because I was thinking about the infamous Donald Trump. Trump seeks only what he regards as his own good, but he is not intellectually capable of determining what would be to his benefit. Instead of going for the greatest benefit, he is still running after little things that would have helped him as a real estate developer but look foolish for the leader of a major country. And he has surrounded himself with people with similar levels of intelligence and moral judgement; I mean Giuliani and similar. And he continued to try to extend his real estate holdings after he became president, rather than making himself look good and worthy of investments, which would have been to greater advantage over the long run. Consider the contrast with Jimmy Carter, who was not a good president, but who has become more highly regarded since he left office.

But there are people who are trying to correct some of the errors. I have seen Students 4 Best Evidence before, but today I used one of their articles to explain something. Then I looked at the site, and I was impressed. It might be good, if they went into more detail in some cases, but they are not professional journalists, and sometimes the problems the find in mass media were caused by someone making up details that might please readers. The article that I cited was on the lack of evidence that Cholesterol causes heart disease, something that I have known for decades, but they didnít tell the pop medicine writers.