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Why we fall for propaganda

No one will deny that we are living in a society that is plagued with an overabundance of information that neither supports our basic understanding of truth nor assists in our need to have proper guidance. Yet in a world that demands our full attention, why is it that we continue to remain blind sighted by all of the “news” that only provides some of the necessary information that we need to make rational and informed decisions? Why is it that we are more interested in the labels and ideology of others rather than taking the time to fully understand our own need to have a position that is objective enough to see all sides rather than just one? Maybe this is by design. Maybe it’s time to take a good look at what’s going on around us so that we can see that there is something lurking in the background that is truly controlling the picture as we all see it.

What exactly is “truth”?

Simple philosophy states that truth is defined as a statement about the way the world actually is. Truth is typically categorized as a study in metaphysics, or rather, what is real. But how can one person’s understanding of what is real, be considered “truth” when someone else may see it differently, depending on his or her perspective?  According to Philosophy News, there are two types of items that contribute to a person’s understanding of their own truth;

  • Belief— meaning that thing that does not exist outside the mind. Beliefs can be about falsities or truth because it comes from the individuals own mental acceptance of what is real or not.
  • Knowledge—which is more complicated because it consists of evidence, certainty, practicality, and broad agreement. All of these things contribute to proof that a person latches onto in order to accept a certain thing or situation as their personal truth.

Although these are just a couple of the terms used by philosophers to define a very difficult term, we get the point. Typically a person receives information, breaks that information down internally utilizing their own experiences and understanding, compares their final assessment to the belief of others, and then accepts that information as either fact or fiction. If this analysis is indeed correct, then it can be easily assessed that anything can step in and alter a person’s understanding of what a fact might be. All someone has to do is play with a few of the terms needed for an individual to make a final assessment.  Additionally, the deal can truly be sealed if someone can show that the “fact” they want you to accept is one that is agreed upon by the general populous. According to philosopher Donald Davidson, “We have reason to believe and accept information as truth if it indeed coheres with many others.” He continues, “Thus truth is essentially epistemic since any other model requires a type of access to the real world that we simply can’t have.”

Why propaganda?

If we are a society of human beings who are following other human beings, then why would it be such a far reach to imagine that those same humans have agendas, just as we do? Say you worked for a company ran by one boss. It makes perfect sense that your boss would have an agenda that would parallel that of the company’s bottom line. You, as an employee, may or may not be a part of that overall need. If you are not a part of the greater scheme, then you are someone who is merely being utilized to help in the achievement of the company’s goal. As such, your boss might tell you just what you need to hear in order for you to remain a motivated and productive member of the team…that is, until there is no longer any use for your services.

Propaganda being utilized among society is not much different from the company boss who needs to lead his company to success. There are things that may be thrown your way, as a member of society, by those who are responsible for leading the world and the people in it. It was a very powerful weapon in war because it was used to dehumanize and create hatred toward a supposed enemy by creating a false image in the mind of soldiers and citizens. Throwing labels and categories at individuals who aren’t truly sure of what their own truth might be is a way of ensuring that they can be potentially controlled. For example, if you are not sure within yourself of what you believe based on true knowledge of self, then you might be prone to accept the label society attached, to either you or others, as your truth without any objective understanding. You may fail to do further research on the information provided because you will assume it as fact based on either your limited knowledge or based on the fact that others within your category believe as you do.

Seeking truth through the propaganda is never an easy battle, but it is indeed one worth having. When you can see beyond what you are given at face value and can remember that you are dealing with humans that have their own understanding of things based on their own perspective, you may even find that you are more sensitive to the needs of others. Truth is something that evades us all—but it doesn’t have to. We can find the truth as a whole if we take the time to shed our own desire to prove our “truth” and instead be open to seeking the truth that lives outside of us.

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About Audra D. Luke

Author of From Powerless to Empowered (a step-by-step guide to empowering teen girls)

One comment

  1. Knowledge and belief?

    It’s actually MUCH simpler:

    KNOWLEDGE is direct perception, BELIEF is second hand. If you trust someone and have faith in them, you might believe them, but you never KNOW for sure until you go and look.

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