What is the science of lies?
Recently journalists have invoked neuroscience to explain everything from women’s orgasms to the Republican brain.
An article I read this week distilled the Republican platform as “equal parts truth, omission, chutzpah and lies.”
The spate of lies and half-truths invoked by political campaigns has spawned a whole new niche in journalism: political lie-detectors.
Our daily newspaper in Portland now carries Politifact, which offers readers a “scorecard separating fact from fiction.”
Stories and sources can earn a score ranging from completely true or false, with in-between (half-truth or mostly false), and the completely “pants on fire” label from the Truth-o-meter.
This gives me pause: since when it is required that consumers of information need fact-checking to tell us when a news source or political figure is lying?
In his book, The Republican Brian, science writer Chris Mooney presents data that people who are more politically conservative are less willing than others to hear information that contradicts their beliefs.
Global warming is used as the prime example to illustrate how some individuals discount scientific evidence in favor of their belief systems.
But recent reports of a meta-study about organic vs. conventional foods (they found no nutritional differences) engendered foul cries by folks heavily invested in the benefits of organic food.
Results were discounted: the science was poorly done, the authors had vested interests, their measures were incorrect.
The same argument has been launched against conservatives who discount global warming: bad science and vested interests.
Seems that we weave our own lies about hold them dear when threatened by information that cuts through our beliefs.
Most likely this is part of the human condition as evidenced by our reluctance to listen to viewpoints dissimilar from our own.
We create our own stories. The danger comes when we believe them so much we ignore the world beyond the story.