I mentioned in a previous blog post how commonplace it was for people to misquote Emerson’s quip about “foolish consistency.” I got to thinking about that, as well as other (and more gross) forms of “lying by editing” – the cut-and-paste method of taking words out of context and making it appear that the person is saying the opposite of what they actually said. Right-wing ideologues with their authoritarian mind-set are especially prominent these days at such thinly disguised efforts at bald-faced lying, in no small part because their base, having abandoned any pretense at rational thought or even basic decency, will swallow any lie that is spoon fed to them, on no other account than that the spoon comes from the sources they’ve decided to believe without question, upon which they will swallow those lies without even a first, much less a second thought.
Thus, the professional liar James O’Keefe fabricated a story that destroyed the organization ACORN with a highly edited tape that grossly misrepresented an interview with one of the group’s employees. But once the tape was made public, the facts no longer mattered: a lie will go halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on. The same vicious stunt was attempted against Planned Parenthood, but the hoax was uncovered with greater speed (spurred, perhaps, by the fraudulent accusations against ACORN). But there are lesser lies floating around out there which, while never as “compelling” as a video – people are more likely to react emotionally to videos, whereas reading activates more cognitive processes – they are nevertheless worth addressing. The habit (and it IS a habit) of dealing skeptically and intelligently with little lies, translates into something of a prophylactic against the really big lies. So let us look at a few of the lesser canards that are floating around in the great “out there.” Continue reading