The Most Damaging Fake News of All Time

I grew up in my own prison. The bars were all the beliefs handed to me by society, my parents, my friends, my teachers, my bosses, my loved ones.

I’m not free of the prison. I suspect it’s impossible.

But being aware of the ways in which we are imprisoned, the ways in which free will is castrated on a daily basis, will help us be aware of where the bars are.

And some days, we can actually open them. We can run free. We can escape until we are caught again.

And I am always caught again.

Here are examples of the most damaging fake news in history:

A) A college education will lead to a good job and success.

B) Home ownership in the U.S. is a good investment. (Corollary fake news: renting is “throwing money down the toilet”.)

C) The FDA (in the U.S.) makes the world safer by regulating prescription drugs.

D) War can somehow be justified. (Name a single war in history that was worth it.)

E) Democracy is better than any other system. (It often is, but not always, and blind trust in it can lead to fascism.)

F) Zero Presidents of the U.S. were corrupt. (12 Presidents had slaves, for instance.)

G) Gold is “real” money and “fiat” money is fake.

H) Smart people don’t judge books by their covers (or people by their looks).

I) People should vote if they want to have a voice in society.

J) Marriage is something more than a government contract.

K) 401ks are a valid way to save for retirement.

L) Political parties. (Most parties have 40–50 “beliefs” in their platform. Most people will believe some from one party and other beliefs from other parties. There’s no party that represents all beliefs of a group of people, so elections become popularity contests.)

M) Media is the fourth branch of government. (This implies they are an unbiased informed way to “check” biases in the other branches.)

N) Reading news makes you informed. (Corollary of above.)

O) Google is not a division of the intelligence arm of the U.S. government.

P) The U.S. (and every country) doesn’t interfere in the elections of every other country.

Q) We have free will. (In which case, why are companies putting 65,000 advertisements a day in front of our brains?)

R) Terrorism is a threat. (In the past decade, for every one person that has died from terrorism, 1,049 people were killed by guns. And, a guess, 10,000 people from suicide.)

Terrorism is only a strategy when an organization or state has no other resources to fight a war.

S) There is such a thing as “purpose” in life. For 200,000 years the only purpose was avoiding lions and having kids. Now for the past 20 years, people want to know their “purpose”.

T) Democrats are more ethical/intelligent than Republicans. Or Republicans are more ethical than Democrats.

U) Dreaming big leads to happiness. (Corollary: having “big goals” leads to success.)

V) AI will lead to a computer becoming “awake”.

I wish I could get to “Z” but I’m running out. Feel free to add more in the comments.

Or ask questions about any of the above and I’m happy to respond.

Our lives are currently ruled by fake news and most of us just choose which fake news to believe in and which to call “fake”.

 

  • Robert Kaercher

    “War can somehow be justified.”

    James, what do you say to people who cite World War II as a justifiable war?

  • clemdane

    I either agree or don’t particularly disagree on almost all of these.

    The only thing that stood out as questionable was in S. “Now for the past 20 years, people want to know their ‘purpose’.” I understand the point you’re trying to make, but you will have a hard time persuading me that people didn’t start wondering about their purpose on earth until 20 years ago. Not everyone 25, 50, 75, 100 or even 500 years ago was in a hand to mouth scrabble for existence. Many were, and when you get back 500 years most were. But that didn’t stop philosophers and individuals from wondering what on earth we are doing here.

    If you’re talking about the more superficial, navel-gazing cry of, “Someone please help me find my purpose!” even that started at least 50 years ago. “What Color is Your Parachute” came out in 1970s. The Hero with A Thousand Faces came out in 1949, though I’m not sure that was when Joseph Campbell first said, “Follow your bliss.” But that certainly became a mantra for groups of people in the 1960s and 1970s getting together to seek out their “purposes.” Wasn’t that the aim of the encounter groups at Esalen and the EST movement? People who had all the material comforts they needed but who still felt like meaning was missing from their lives?

  • Paul

    Brilliant list!

    Maybe say we have free choice…as opposed to free will.

    I might add…”what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That may be true every now and then. But sometimes what doesn’t kill you just beats the hell out of you.

  • Ravijot Singh

    What about the idea of Personal legend by Paulo Coelho? Or do you believe that everyone has a treasure that they will find there heart is? (The way it is mentioned in the Alchemist)

  • Harriet O’Donovan

    I loved reading this list this morning. 😀 It is very liberating. I just wondered about dreaming big and why that isn’t a good idea.

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