How Do You Know What is Truth?

Sommer Season all year

Lately, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) have been involved in several discussions with people regarding truth. It typically begins with a question like: How do you know what to believe on social media and in the news? It’s not easy.

One of the definitions in the Cambridge English Dictionary is: “Truth is the real facts about a situation, event, or person.”   That same dictionary defines a fact as “something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof is given.” What people are really wanting to know is: How do we determine what are the real facts of a situation, event, or person, and what’s the proof?  I am going to attempt to answer that question.

I have come to realize that we humans are programmed, manipulated, brainwashed (you pick the word) to believe what we are told. Most people believe what the Mainstream Media…

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How Do You Know What is Truth?

A commentary on critical thinking

Lately, I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) have been involved in several discussions with people regarding truth. It typically begins with a question like: How do you know what to believe on social media and in the news? It’s not easy.

One of the definitions in the Cambridge English Dictionary is: “Truth is the real facts about a situation, event, or person.”   That same dictionary defines a fact as “something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof is given.” What people are really wanting to know is: How do we determine what are the real facts of a situation, event, or person, and what’s the proof?  I am going to attempt to answer that question.

I have come to realize that we humans are programmed, manipulated, brainwashed (you pick the word) to believe what we are told. Most people believe what the Mainstream Media (MM) is telling them. Most believe what our leaders and governments tell them. I have even heard people proclaim, “Our leaders/governments would never lie to us.” We believe if “doctor” is in front of a name, or a person has a doctorate degree, then they are telling us the truth. We think, “They’re a doctor, it must be true.” We believe everything our spiritual leaders tell us. I once heard a person say (paraphrased): “Tell me what I need to do to obtain my salvation, and I will do it.”  Organized religions have indoctrinated us to think a certain way and believe what they tell us without questioning, often using fear to do so.  Comedian, George Carlin, once said: “I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.” He’s right. MM is constantly proclaiming “Experts say” (see Experts say).  As soon as it is labelled “expert” we think: “It must the true if experts say it.” Rarely are we told who these experts are. When statistics are given from some study, we think the stats make it true.

Debate.org deliberates on the question: Are we being brainwashed as a society? Here is an excerpt.

…in my society, the United States, I think we’ve been being brainwashed for a long time, and still are. We’ve just never been encouraged to think critically about things. We’re always told/taught what to think, rather than how to think, which I consider tantamount to brainwashing.

We’re encouraged in schools to stand in reverence and pledge allegiance to the flag before we’re even taught why we owe our allegiance to it in the first place… We’re taught early on in our schooling that certain drugs are bad (marijuana, LSD, psylosybin, etc.) but are not told why they are bad, and nary a word is said of the harms of socially acceptable drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, oxycotin, or even pharmaceutical drugs that are often used in excess for recreational purposes, like children’s cough syrup. Even in the media, we’re often presented with a biased view of events, and they are often put through an ideological filter, and rather than presenting only facts; the opinions of the reporter are reported along with it.

The debater said, “We’ve just never been encouraged to think critically about things.” He or she is absolutely correct. I always tried to teach my students to think critically, but it was a difficult battle. Students typically resist thinking critically. Sadly, their only concern is what is on the test. Over my teaching career, I’ve heard many a student say: “Just tell me what I need to know for the test.” People, like my students, are programmed NOT to think for themselves. Instead, they are told what to think and tested on it.

The Buddha 

The Buddha—also known as Siddhartha Gautama—(circa 450 BCE) an individual whose teachings form the basis of Buddhism allegedly said:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Now that is good, sound advice. Just because someone—even if they have credentials—said it, doesn’t make it true. We must think for ourselves and come to our own truth. If we believe everything we’re told, then we are being unknowingly bullied (#bullying #antibullying). If ever there was a time in human history to think critically, it is now! There is much misinformation being told.

We are robots. We are programmed, manipulated, or mind-controlled to just believe whatever someone tells us; especially if they are seen as an authority figure. I experienced that as a teacher. My students, for the most part, would believe anything I told them. A colleague of mine once told his students that packaged wieners were dug out of a landfill site after being in there for 100 years, and the wieners were still edible. This teacher was “pulling their leg,” of course, but the students completely believed the teacher. The reality is, we humans tend to believe what we are told, even if we think we don’t.

So how does a person think critically? When you are critically thinking, you are asking: What is my truth? You are tapping into what is yours, what feels right to you, and deciphering what is somebody else’s. Whenever we are told something—whether it be the news, a YouTube video, another person—you can digest the information by thinking critically. That can be done using these three steps.

  1. Recognize that you are hearing or seeing a message.
  2. Understand the message.  This message means…  This doesn’t mean the message is true.
  3. Observe and start asking questions about the information you’ve received. Dive deeper and peel back the layers of the message. Ask yourself: Does this feel right to me? Does this make sense? Could this be true, or could this be false? Is there more to this message or information? Where did this information come from? What is the source of this message?

Ask yourself: Does the source have an agenda or goal? All media messages have goals, which can affect the information presented. For example, Coca-Cola claimed its Vitaminwater brand could promote healthy joints and reduce the risk of eye disease, among other health benefits. Such claims are aimed at selling a product and are likely partially true or maybe not true at all. Some publications aim to rally readers around a particular issue, like climate change, and so may present a skewed view of the science.

Instead, feel the message; feel the resonance of the message; feel the message’s energy. Does the energy of the message resonate with you? As Albert Einstein once said:

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

Thinking critically means stepping out of right or wrong, good or bad, or true and false and using your intuition to feel the energy of the information you are receiving. Cambridge English Dictionary defines intuition as: “(knowledge from) an ability to understand or know something immediately based on your feelings rather than facts.”  Have you ever gotten a “vibe” from someone or something? Have you had a feeling that I’m unsafe,  I’m in danger, or felt that something was a bad idea? I have. That is your intuition. Now use those same intuitive feelings to determine if a message you’re receiving is your truth. If it feels right, then it is your truth. If it feels incorrect, then it is someone else’s.

Start critically thinking for yourself. That is what I am doing. Not everyone likes it, as they want to debate me and prove me wrong. I will no longer allow bullies to manipulate me to think a certain way. I am stepping into my sovereignty and thinking for myself. I encourage you to do the same. That doesn’t mean I’ll disrespect their truth.

Control is a form of Bullying

A commentary on censorship

The Guardian this week had a news article titled: Facebook and Twitter restrict controversial New York Post story on Joe Biden. The article says Twitter blocked tweets that contained links or photos to the New York (NY) Post’s report on alleged emails that show that Hunter Biden offered to introduce then Vice President Joe Biden, and now Democrat presidential candidate, to an executive of a Ukrainian gas company. Joe Biden’s son has faced accusations of corrupt behaviour from both Democrats and Republicans. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”  My question is: Harmful to who?

Facebook also took steps to limit the spread of New York Post—a newspaper that is part of the mainstream media—article placing restrictions on posts linking to the article, saying: “This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.”  The article goes on to say that Republican senator Ted Cruz wrote Twitter saying: “Twitter’s censorship of this story is quite hypocritical, given its willingness to allow users to share less-well-sourced reporting critical of other candidates.”

Are social media companies censuring? I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) personally have had Facebook posts that I shared declared “misinformation,” and YouTube videos which I saved to watch later to discover them removed from YouTube.

According to the NY Post’s article; Ted Cruz slams ‘unbelievable’ Twitter censorship of another Hunter Biden story, Twitter locked down some accounts of people who shared the report, forcing them to delete the story from their feeds. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to delete her tweet and remains locked out of her personal account, which has 1 million followers. The article also reports that Twitter blocked Ted Cruz from sharing the article. President Trump has had many tweets blocked by Twitter, and the company has even temporarily blocked the Donald Trump`s re-election campaign Twitter account (see US Election 2020).

A September 29th study uncovering global perspectives on online censorship using citizens in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, Norway and Sweden, showed large segments of people in each country do not trust the integrity of information they find online, and many suspect censorship is at play. The study reveals 37% of Canadians and 54% of Americans feel that they’ve experienced internet censorship. The Toronto Sun has an article: BIG TECH CENSORS: Social media continues to gag conservative voices, stating YouTube nixed thousands of videos under the pretense it was removing hate speech.

Are we being controlled? If we aren’t being controlled, then why are so many users unable to speak their truth without being censored? New Zealand-born writer, Juliet Marillier, says,  There is no truth on this island of yours. Rather, there are as many truths as there are stars in the sky; and every one of them different.” American photographer, John Szarkowski, says, “Because we see reality in different ways, we must understand that we are looking at different truths rather than the truth and that, therefore, all photographs lie in one way or another.” We all like to think we hold “the truth.”

We need to ask questions, such as: Have we been controlled and manipulated with the use of fear tactics to keep us silent and out of our truths? Let’s face it, if we are being controlled and manipulated, then we are being bullied. Bullies (#bullying #antibullying) intimidate and torment others to control them. Start asking questions. First ask yourselves: Who is doing the censoring? Why are social media CEOs censoring? Who is telling them to censor? Secondly, ask yourselves who and what are they censoring? Are they censoring people who are speaking truths that are not the truths of those doing the censoring? Are they censoring truths that they don’t want us to hear? I have to wonder why the social media giants are attempting to prevent a New York Post article about the possible illegal dealings regarding the Biden family from being read? I guarantee that if a similar article about Trump came out, it would not be censored. We’ve seen lots of examples of that. The third question to ask yourself is: What are those doing the censoring afraid of? After all, censorship is the voice of fear. What are they hiding? Who are they not censoring? Could it be they are not censoring individuals that have the same agenda as them? Are they allowing the truths to be spread that are their truths? I am merely asking the questions while remaining neutral as best I can. Do some research to find the answers to the above questions if you feel called to.

I was under the illusion that everyone had freedom of expression or freedom of speech in the ‘free wold.” The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and the right to equality. It is part of the Canadian Constitution. The First Amendment of US Constitution guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.  

So, ask yourselves are we manipulated and controlled? Have we always been? An article titled: Fear-Based Manipulation: How Politicians, Marketers and the Media Create Panic to Control the Masses, explains how this could be done. Another article: How the Media Controls Your Reality explains how media could control our lives. I encourage you to read them.

American singer and songwriter, Jim Morrison, once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Soviet politician, Nikita Khrushchev, said, “The press is our chief ideological weapon.” Malcolm X, an African American Muslim minister, says, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”  British television writer, novelist and non-fiction writer, Dresden James, once said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” Could that be true?

If we really do have freedom of expression, which our constitutions say we do, then we must respect and tolerate everyone’s truth. As German-born physicist, Albert Einstein, once said, “We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.” We must remain neutral, no matter how difficult that may be, and stop labelling things as right or wrong. Really, there is no such thing as right and wrong. As Ufuoma Apoki, founder of Petra Ministries, says, “Right or Wrong, most times, merely depends on perspective. It takes humility (not necessarily logic) to let go of our egos to see through the other person’s eyes. But I guess even I, myself, can’t let go to see why you’d object.” In other words, right and wrong are relative.

Some people might claim there are absolute truths, meaning a truth that is true at all times and in all places; a truth that is always true no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps there is, but that would require more study.  

If we are ever going to live in peace and harmony, then all truths need to be respected and tolerated, and the use of censorship to control others needs to stop. Let’s face it, we live in a diverse world; a world with an infinite number of truths, and that is okay. I don’t have to accept your truth, nor do you have to accept my truth, but we do need to understand and accept that your truth may be different from my truth. When you attempt to impose your truth onto someone else, then you are acting as a bully.

Is the Cure Worse Than the Virus?

A commentary on COVID restrictions.

The Washington Times has a September 15th opinion piece titled, America’s pandemic: Why the cure has become worse than the virus. I (#blogger #blog #somseason #YA #authors) happen to agree with the commentator. Especially for young people, the cure is worse than the virus. The mainstream media (MM) continues to tout the dangers of COVID-19, instilling fear by constantly telling us that COVID numbers are on the rise. Yet, the article states that coronavirus COVID-19 has killed 0.058% of the U.S. population, assuming they were actually COVID deaths. As I stated in previous posts, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has admitted that 94% of people said to be killed by the virus had two or more other health conditions which likely contributed to their deaths. The opinion piece goes on to state that the Associated Press, for months has said: “For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a few weeks.” 

I intend to remain neutral, not pointing fingers or judging the decisions that our leaders have made. Instead, I carefully analyze the information available to me, asking questions, drawing my own conclusions, and speaking my truth. It may not be your truth and that is perfectly fine.

I recently saw a September 23rd Calgary Herald article titled, Opioid deaths more than double in Alberta during COVID-19 pandemic.  This article states that more than twice as many Albertans died of opioid overdoses in the second quarter of 2020 than the first, an increase of 28%, according to new data. Finally, the MM and the province’s government are starting to talk about the effects of COVID restrictions. Alberta’s associate minister of mental health and addictions, Jason Luan, stated, “The past few months have led to increased fear and anxiety, isolation, disruption to in-person services, job uncertainty and more.” He admitted that these problems are not unique to Alberta as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario have seen a similar rise in overdose deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The Huffpost’s September 24th article, Statistics Canada Reports Record High Level Of Youth Not In School Or Work, reveals that Statistics Canada found that 24% of Canadians aged 15 to 29 were “NEET” ― not in employment, education or training ― as of April of this year. That’s double the rate in February, before the pandemic. The article also states that the jobless rate for youth was 23.4% in August, compared to 10.2% for Canada as a whole.

Are our youth affected by COVID restrictions more so than adults? The information suggests so. I would even go so far as to say our youth, more so than any other demographic, are being bullied (#bulling #antibullying) because of COVID restrictions. I have to wonder if COVID restrictions are really necessary?

CTV has an August article titled, How deadly is COVID-19 for children? Here’s what we know. According to the article, one death out of 7,888 cases in children and teenagers means that less than 0.013% of young COVID-19 patients in Canada have died. In the US, only about 0.2 % of patients under the age of 17 have died, according to the article. A study of 100 children who contracted the coronavirus in Italy, a country touted is one of the worst affected by COVID back in March, found that no children died. In China, a study reveals only one of the first 2,135 pediatric patients to have contracted the virus later died. Research from Ontario concluded that it is “rare” for children to die after contracting COVID-19 in high- or middle-income countries.

I have to ask: If our children and teens have a less than 1% death rate because of coronavirus, then why are there such harsh COVID restrictions placed on them? Are these restrictions—forced masking, social distancing, insisting they sanitize their hands before entering school rooms, and fear mongering affecting their mental well-being—a too high of a price?  Shouldn’t our youth’s mental health be priority? The cure—at least for our young people—is far worse than the threat of the virus.

The Daily Signal—not a MM source—has an September 29th article titled, COVID-19 Linked to Rising Suicide Rates Among Teens. The article states:

Many experts say that the stringent social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 have significantly worsened teen mental health. Because teenagers are social by nature and developmentally reliant on their peers, the pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues among an age cohort already vulnerable to begin with. 

I can tell you as a retired teacher who worked with children and teens for over 35 years, that our youth are emotionally fragile at the best of times. The most important thing for a teenager or child is being with their friends, and with COVID restrictions, this is being taken away from them. It seems to me that decisions concerning our youth are being made out of fear of the virus when decisions should be made from the perspective of what what the data says and what is best for young people.

The New York Post has an August 13 article titled, One in four young adults in the US contemplated suicide during pandemic.  The article sites a CDC study that states:

The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%)

In another article by Health News Florida titled, The Pandemic Has Researchers Worried About Teen Suicide, it states:

“Teenagers are in a developmental space where it is critically important that they have regular contact with their peers and are able to develop close and ongoing relationships with adults outside the home, such as their teachers, their coaches, their advisers,” says Lisa Damour, an adolescent psychologist.” And I worry very much about what it means for that to be disrupted by the pandemic.”

Are COVID restrictions, said to be implemented to protect our children and teens, worth damaging their mental health when the death rate of the virus is less than 1%? Forcing kids to wear masks and social distance is harming them more than the virus threatens them. The cure has become worse that the virus for our youth. That is bullying. In one of my May posts, I suggested a simple definition of bullying, which was; ‘when a person is made to feel threatened or unsafe by another person.’  Now I would define bullying as: ‘When a person, or group of people, are made to feel threatened, unsafe, or restricted by another individual, group of people, or authority.’  COVID restrictions are affecting young people’s mental well-being, so they are being bullied. The question remains: Is protecting our children and teens from a virus where less than 1% are said to have died from COVID worth causing 25% of young people to consider suicide because of COVID restrictions? I say NO. It is illogical. The data says NO. And most of all, NO because it is bullying. That is my truth!