Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


You Have to Give up the Kool-aid to Find the Truth

By Rob Tenery, MD on April 12, 2017

The Biblical verse related to seeking the truth from the King James Version is found in Matthew 7:7 - Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find.

Although the Biblical message in Matthew is about finding the truth through God, the sentiment applies universally. There are two pursuits for the truth: The first is to seek the truth, regardless of any preconceived notions. The other is to seek support for what one already feels is the truth. There is a place for both! That is as long as the seeker is willing to ‘listen’.

There are two ways to listen: One by taking in information and processing it. The other is waiting to interrupt so as to interject one’s own thoughts. The former can enrich the dialog; the latter only furthers the listener’s current point-of-view.

Applying this principle to the political arena, and assuming that the facts on a given subject are consistent, any discrepancy between the media, depends on whether they lean left or right. This may be the more important story than who investigated or talked to whom and when.  

Increasingly, the media has moved away from just reporting the news to interpreting it. This change in delivery is an attempt to bring their target audience toward of the media’s point-of-view, rather than letting the facts speak for themselves.  It boils down to the difference between informing and influencing.

Public opinion is the playing field the media is trying to reach. Unfortunately, the normal checks and balances don’t apply because the media is both ‘judge and jury’ as to what to put out, or not, and what slant to put on it, if any.  The target audience then is burdened with the additional role of ‘filter’ as to the level of truth by the media’s message and what to believe. Clouded by their own preconceived biases, the target audiences, in many cases, are not capable of assuming this additional role. Thus, they often hear only what they want to hear and much of the time, not really ‘listen’.

In the increasingly, controlled media-world, the responsibility for sorting out the facts falls on the target audience. If individuals come to a contact with a bias that agrees with an interpretation that is in line with their predetermined notion, then they agree and it further supports their premise. If the information is in contradiction to their preconceived notion, they can reject it or abandon their previous position.

The media has a responsibility in this interchange--- to either present the complete database or disclose any conflicts of interest that could influence their conclusion. Herein lies one of the major problems with getting to the truth--- pundits, who now most reporters are, mask their bias. Reporting the stories they want; suppressing the others. Revealing parts of the story that lend credence to a particular argument; omitting when it conflicts with their intended submission. The truth, as they see it, gets shrouded in their message.

The entity that brings clarity in seeking the truth is honesty. Honesty by those who share information can still be honest to themselves, even if it is filtered through their own perspective. That is why ‘good’ people can come down on the opposite sides of a similar issue. Local priorities versus more regional, immediate versus long-term effects are examples.  In politics, this is demonstrated by the basic differences between the conservative approach to government that advocates for a balance budget, market forces, lower taxes and less federal interference. While liberals are more concerned with expanding opportunities and support for those with less, increasing federal controls to insure parity and prevent exploitation.

Who is to say that these goals, on both sides, are not admirable? The problems arise when certain goals come in conflict. The prime example is the conflict that lies between capitalism and socialism, each in their pure state. With capitalism, the market forces of supply and demand control the state. Whereas with socialism, controls lie in the cumulative will of the populous. Capitalism breeds entrepreneurship, socialism parity.

We can only hope that in the new electronic age, with wireless communication devices such as the iPhones, posting on Twitter, Facebook and even streaming will bypass much of the media bias. For example, agree with him or not, the tweets by Trump (reported to be over 34,000) have been very effective of taking his message directly to the people.

The term ‘drinking the Kool-aid’ comes to mind. We are becoming a nation that has lost its ‘academic thirst’ for the truth.  Instead breezing through life, picking up only what we want to know and trusting ‘Uncle Sam’ to take care of us. That endemic laziness makes for a nation that is susceptible to those forces that would move us further away from the democratic republic the founders of our Constitution envisioned.

The Truth is There! But you have to give-up drinking the Kool-aid to find it.





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