Post-Truth Is A Lie

November 18, 2016 § 7 Comments

Liberal news media sites are all a-gog with the rise of the ‘post-truth’ politician.  Donald Trump is the most egregious example, nearly everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie.  But Boris Johnson.  Nigel Farage.  Marine Le Pen.  I could go on.  It’s so bad that the venerable Oxford Dictionary has named ‘post-truth’ its word of the year for 2016.

I do not like the term ‘post-truth.’ I believe this is a case where a spade is a spade.  These politicians are liars. They’re lying.  They tell lies. Untruths. Fibs.  Fiction.  Calling it ‘post-truth’ normalizes their lying.  It makes it seem ok. Like, we’re all in on the joke.  Like none of this matters.

It matters.  Deeply.  In the country I live, the United States, we have just elected a president who has determined that Donald Trump speaks the truth exactly 4% of the time. Four per cent.  A further 11% of his public utterances are ‘mostly true.’  And 15% are ‘half true.’  But half-true is still a lie.  I learned the term from a lawyer friend, who notes lawyers love terms like this, because it means something is essentially a lie, but because there’s some factual veracity to it, it’s copacetic.  So.  Even if we want to be generous to Trump, 30% of his public utterances contain factual veracity.  The other 70%, the overwhelming majority of what he says?  Well, they’re ‘mostly false’ (19%), ‘false’ (34%), and the remainder, 17%, are  what PoliFact calls ‘pants on fire,’ as in that children’s rhyme: ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire!’

Yes. The United States has just elected a man who speaks God’s honest truth 4% of the time he opens his mouth in public.

This is not ‘post-truth.’ This is lying.  Donald Trump is a liar. Boris Johnson is a liar. Marine Le Pen is a liar.  Nigel Farage is a liar.  We need to call this what it is if we wish to combat it. The decisions people like Trump and Johnson get to make as head of state and government minister, respectively, impact the lives of millions of people, and not just in their own countries.

A lie is a lie is a lie.


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§ 7 Responses to Post-Truth Is A Lie

  • Yes it is VERY depressing. It also happens here but seems a bit less strident. Notice that it peaks during elections but never drops to zero at any time. Applebaum and Tremblay are doing it right now in the trial that just got underway. So here is the question for an historian. How do you separate the truth from this mash when you look back and try to recreate a truthful historical account? Of course it has been going on forever but is reaching a ridiculous pitch right now. And as a scientist it is doubly serious to me as the “facts” seem to be what these people say they are and not what they really are. I said this for months – tell a lie over and over and it gradually becomes the truth. EG: Hilary’s emails…Quite depressing. Huxley is proving to be correct after all…

    • Well, that’s just it. I think Goebbels is the first one to have noted that lying repeatedly makes a truth. The historian is left to sift through all this static and try to figure out where something approximating the truth is by cross-referencing, using multiple sources, etc. Of course, for an historian like, who is more interested in the creation of narratives than an objective truth, the lies the likes of Trump, Harper, et al. tell are useful for seeing how they work and affect the collective memory.

  • Valerie Petit says:

    Absolutely right! But let’s not forget that somebody voted this neanderthal into office as unbelievable as it seems……guess half of all Americans are busy watching reality shows instead of reading.

    • Well, not quite half. He got less than half f the votes cast, and just over half of eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot. So, yeah, I guess, half of the country is strung out on reality TV. Or worse. Ugh.

  • […] you want to call it, post-fact, post-truth, alternative facts, these are all just lies.  I have already commented on this.  Nonetheless, whether this is just a re-labelling of lying, we are still in this cultural […]

  • […] in facts and reality and too many people on the other did not (the latter is proved by the ‘alternative facts,’ or lies, that come out of Whitehall in London and the White House in DC, for […]

  • […] surrogates has coined the term ‘alternative facts’ to describe lies.  I wrote about this last year in the wake of the Presidential […]

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