Politics, Media, and Truth

Posted: March 9, 2011 in community affairs, current events, in the news, science policy

You may have seen the title of this post and thought: “Oh! It’s like Jeopardy! And the question is…What three things are mutually exclusive?” I initially typed these words without irony, inspired into blogging action by the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller; however, this simple title took on new life as it glared back from the screen.

Whether you are conservative or liberal, work with your head or work with your hands, are with us or against us, look black or white or in between, a universally shared trait seems to be the inherent skepticism (no matter from whence it stems) of these three words thrown inexplicably together: Politics. Media. Truth. What has so united us in our distrust?

I’m reminded of something David Gergen alluded to while speaking at UTA’s Maverick Speaker Series last year: What we need (I believe he was initially making an inter-generational comparison, which I will here take the liberty of scaling up to the whole population level) is a cause for passion. Previously in this great nation of ours, we have been united by common goals that often included battles, whether of the physical or ideological nature. Importantly, these causes gave all Americans, regardless of background or affiliation, a united stance to take on a directed measure. The example Gergen used was the first two World Wars: These were just, he argued, and everyone agreed. What Gergen then called for, in an argument under-appreciated at best, is a new united front – a new reason to band together – and one that is nonviolent. Simply stated, we need to SHARE PASSION if we are to ever feel content. What, asks Gergen, since the Great Wars, have we ever ALL BELIEVED IN, all at the same time and in the same place? Give us a common cause, a good one, and you’ve just given us a clear path forward.

The question is, of course, rhetorical. And the history of human nature seems to suggest only great injustice can incite unified indignity. Unfortunately, I share the perspective of Einstein when it comes to the disturbing concept of raging a third world war: “I know not with what weapons World War Three will be fought, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Economics often serves to remind us biologists of just how animal-like humans truly are. All our supposed logic and reason and critical thought can be explained and predicated by laws that serve game theorists, behaviorists, ecologists, and evolutionists equally well.

  1. A very thoughtful and enjoyable post. Your Jeopardy quip made me laugh– yes indeed, those three words do seem mutually exclusive these days.

    I was pretty oblivious as a kid, but I recall a neighborhood and world where there were a lot of shared values. Many champion moral relativism these days, but that makes shared values impossible. I think unity’s a non-starter without shared values.

    Your last paragraph was a killer. The wallet rules! Slaves to the Almighty Dollar– now there’s a unified purpose we don’t need!

    The Apple Post was excellent! Cool “action” photo! But my favorite part was when you leaped over the cable and knocked that poor embittered woman into the discount banana bin… : )

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