Just the Facts

Just the Facts

What can you do when the facts do not support what you want to believe and what you keep telling everybody else to believe? How long do you have to ignore facts before they go away?

Well, actually, they never will go away. About the best you can do is to isolate yourself from facts. You can quit listening to people who keep bringing them up. Instead, find people to listen to who will tell you what you want to hear. Only listen to people who also want to ignore those pesky things called facts. You can live in a world where the facts don’t exist. That should help to reinforce your positions.

Or perhaps there is a better way. You can create an alternative set of facts, ones that you are more comfortable with. Make up an alternative reality; rewrite history. This way, you can find more people who agree with you. Take these alternative facts, put them in simplistic lingo that appeals to people’s basic instincts, and there you have it!

Simplicity is the way to go. Replace facts with slogans; the truth with truisms. People don’t want to be bothered with deep thoughts in order to form opinions. Provide them with an easier alternative, and they won’t have to go to the trouble of thinking for themselves. Once people have heard a truism, they won’t question whether the truism is the actual truth. You can even convince people that they are actually thinking for themselves, if you make that one of the truisms. Not only will you get many people who agree with you, but you can also deepen their convictions. Just insult anybody who dares to question your truisms. Tell your listeners that your position is the only true one, and that everybody who disagrees with you is lying.

You don’t necessarily need to ignore these naysayers, because you have ready-made arguments to counter what they say. Just use your slogans to respond to whatever kinds of facts or logic that they use. Don’t try to follow their logic, point by point. That might create doubt in your mind; you wouldn’t want that. Your mind is already made up and nobody is going to change it! When people argue with logic and facts, just change the subject back to the simplistic lingo. It helps to have a truism prepared to demonize those who use logic. Just use words like “elitism” and “socialism” a lot, even in situations where they don’t apply. Make sure that you accuse naysayers of doing exactly what you are doing with the truth. That should help to change the subject, to get people to talk about something other than the facts that you must avoid. The people you are really trying to reach won’t be swayed by mere logic and reality, anyway. Rationality – who needs it?

Simplicity is the way to go.

The best way to make this alternative reality gain support: repetition. The truisms become talking points. The more often people hear simplistic truisms, the more deeply they will agree with them. If people hear the same things often enough, things that ring true because they appeal to their basic instincts, the less likely they are to question them. Don’t let the discussion veer away from your talking points. Stay on track. Just keep repeating your talking points. Voila! This alternative reality becomes THE reality!

Simplicity? The beauty of this method is that you don’t really have to do all of this work for yourself. Those people you found who will only tell you what you want to hear? They are all over the radio, TV, and the internet. They get paid for doing all of this for you. You don’t even need to understand the issues involved. They will tell you what it is you are to believe, and what the talking points are.

Of course, the underlying truths, the ones that exist in the real world, will not go away. Facts are facts.

For each issue, facts will eventually force you to drop your talking points. But don’t fear, because the talking points might serve you well for a very long time. Whatever you do, don’t ever admit that you were wrong. Change the talking points when you need to. This means that the process of inventing alternative truths is an ongoing process. Somebody will have to be continuously creating new facts to explain away any real world events or results that don’t jive with your version of reality.

Eventually, you will even have to drop an entire issue, because the facts from the real world will trump your alternative facts. The trick is to always have enough issues on the table so that when reality finally hits and you have to scrap one issue, nobody will notice because you have enough issues to keep you going as if nothing ever happened. Heck, you probably won’t even notice yourself that the list of issues you keep harping on has changed over time, and that reality has proven you wrong on the issues that you no longer talk about.

This is not a problem. You have a system in place that makes creating alternative facts relatively easy.

A version of this essay is included as a chapter in the book Sanity and Public Policy: Separating Truth from Truisms by Jerry Wyant. This book is available in both paperback and eBook formats.

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Jerry Wyant