Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I'll Admit, I Fell For It

Some things I accept at face value. This is usually for one of two reasons: (1) The issue/fact isn't important enough to me to spend my time confirming it from a second source, or (2) even though I wouldn't mind checking it out, there is no second source to confirm with.

Other than on facts which have fallen under one of those two categories (and which, although having been accepted at face value, I don't claim any real knowledge on which to base comment), I am generally comfortable in my knowledge of things.

I really am an inquisitive fellow, hell-bent on stuffing my head with as much knowledge as I can. I spend at least 2 hours per day studying news and current events, 1 hour per day studying history (not including what I watch on The History Channel), and half an hour per day studying English.

I actually took 3 or 4 minutes to look around on the internet when I had heard about General Motors repaying its TARP funds "ahead of schedule and with interest." Said the second source: "Sure enough." (And 3 or 4 minutes at a second source was really as much time as my limited interest would allow... and, honestly, a complete lack of reason to suspect sophistry.)

It's bullshit, it turns out.

What is surprising is why GM would lie so blatantly about something. We're fast coming into the age of The Fact Check. People are starting to realize that there is a lot of bullshit out there, and want to run every bit of information through a Truth Machine. If you go out and claim something as important as GM repaying its TARP funds, you can be damn sure that at least one person is going to look into that, and — if you lied — a video like the one below is going to wind up on YouTube.

And just a pointer to the White House? Since your credibility is directly linked to stupid shit like what GM pulled (and you most certainly should have immediately seen — or suspected — the highjinks), you should have run Robert Gibbs out there in front of the cameras in the first five minutes to declare, "Sorry... no they didn't."

And yes: One needs to recognize the philosophical conundrum faced when acknowledging the possibility that the video above may be false... or the source that claims that the video above is false is itself false... and so on ad infinitum. Perhaps I'm late to the party in realizing that fact. It certainly would explain the solipsistic nature of Americans these days: I'll never find the truth, so I should just stop looking.

Well, herein concludes our lesson in jungle-based epistemology: Even the stuff that is too obvious, too mundane to be a crock... still may be.

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