We all grew up with the phrase seeing is believing as kind of an obvious statement. Few, if any of us learned that the phrase originated, at least as far as the written records show, from a 17th-century English clergyman, Thomas Fuller. It was recorded as “Seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth.” I am amazed at how many things we have taken for granted for decades are now thrown into doubt.
However, when taken as a continuum of bad behaviors in our frail human species they should not be a surprise at all. After all, why would drugs be planted to apprehend someone you didn’t like? Or, why are we surprised when some write scathing untrue things so that others can quote them as if they were facts, and frankly believe they are true.
Today’s fact-checkers point out that internet sites like www.bustatroll.org are almost pure satire and should be considered that. However, things posted on that site are then quoted and used to support broader statements about what we should believe about them or an issue. Perhaps worse yet, we now have “university” in the names of some sites that are not universities and of course “research institute” can be added to almost any online source even though they are far from certified academics.
Couple this with our technological capabilities to produce deep fakes and you have the formula for some truly manipulative media. Lately, I have seen some tricks performed on America’s Got Talent TV series that defy anything I can believe can actually be done.
Never the less, I know I am watching magic … I know I am being deceived. My head throbs trying to explain it to my engineering mind. But, I still know it is not true. Maybe we all should realize that the news cycle is prone to the same tricks. Why are we so prone to believing what we are seeing?
That is where we are today: Seeing is no longer believing … or at least it shouldn’t be.
Perhaps it is because that is what we want to believe.