Why the truth matters.

Truth and facts, why are they important?

Why does it matter that they are important?

I believe that to make the best decisions, a person must be well informed.  Informed of the relevant information, facts.  If the data is incorrect, then the decision is made in error.  What are the potential consequences?  In the case of an airline, the instruments must be accurate - without this (if the sensors are incorrect (intentionally or not)), lives are put at risk.  In the case of public policy, lives are still put at risk.

As an example, there has been much noise made about vaccines over the last several years.  People claiming that they cause autism, which incidentally stemmed from one medical researcher's (Andrew Wakefield) fraudulent paper in 1998 which was subsequently discredited and retracted.  What has been the cost (so far)?  How many lives have been lost because parents have skipped immunizing their children?  How much unnecessary suffering was caused by one man's deceit?

And yet, even now, there are those who continue to repeat the lies about this; including those in the position of making policy decisions.

This is just one such incident.  How many times during the campaign and his term as president so far have we heard him or one of his mouthpieces speak lies (or, as they like to call them, 'alternative facts')?  Lying isn't limited to Trump, or any particular party, or even politicians for that matter.  However, I've limited my scope here because of the consequences.

It seems to go back further than the election, but Politifact's Trump page (which also lists all the statements, with ratings, that they've analyzed) shows his scorecard so far:

  • True: 4%
  • Mostly True: 12%
  • Half True: 14%
  • Mostly False: 19%
  • False: 33%
  • Pants on Fire: 17%

According to this listing, his statements which contain more deceit than truth total 69%.  More than two thirds of his statements are mostly lies and only 4% are completely true.

The propagation of lies, and the denial of truth in the Trump administration so far is baffling.  I can't wrap my mind around the fact that this person has gotten away with constant lying and deception; hell, he was fucking rewarded for it!  How is it that easily countered (his own statements, recordings, and actions) bullshit was overlooked by so many people that they were willing to vote him into office?  I guess the Evangelical Christians who supported him are down to at most nine commandments since they can condone and support a bald-faced liar.

So what are the consequences of an administration built on lies?  First, seems to be the belittling of any reports (and reporters) daring to fact-check and stand up against those lies.  He degrades and erodes the trust in all media by doing this (any dissenting viewpoint is dismissed as fake-news).  Second, since there have already been instances where the Trump administration has ordered agencies to cease publication of documents and news releases.  This order was later rescinded; however, there was serious concern whether this was simply the start of a trend.  Would government-released information be subject to the approval of the administration?  Hopefully not, but the concern lingers, and the question of trustworthiness hangs with it.  Given the propensity for lies, would 'approved' information add to the murkiness?

We need to hold these people accountable and make them answer the questions they don't want to; Pence's interview with John Dickerson on CBS is a good example here, finally answering the question of whether the U.S. is morally superior to Russia (Washington Post article about it as well).  We need to, as a nation, hold this administration (any administration, any politician) to higher standards of conduct, in honesty and in action.  We need to relentlessly call out their lies, and do it publicly.  They need to know that we will not forget the lies, and that we will fight to remind them of their obligation to the truth and to us as our representatives.

Without representation, there is no democracy.  Without trust, there is no representation.  Without consistent truth and honest actions, there is no trust.  To be honest, one must deal in facts.  One must be strong enough to accept the facts one doesn't like, and to stand up to the liars.

Be excellent to each other.