Truth? Or Baseless Opinion?

The following was in a comment made by Valerie Tarico in response to the several comments she had received related to her post, America’s Fake News Coup.

While the post itself was outstanding (as Valerie’s usually are), I particularly liked what she said here …

For some time I have wrestled with the boundaries of free speech, both here and in our society at large. It has become clear that in our pursuit of freedom of speech we have lost sight of accuracy of speech. The result is that all manner of misinformation now proliferates in media and on the web to the point that it threatens our democracy and our future. Climate denial, political disinformation, fake news, baseless opinion that demands equal time with evidence-based research . . . our collective pursuit of truth is being lost in a sea of bullshit.

I value freedom of speech in part because I believe that through a messy process of discourse and listening we are most likely to understand the complexities of our world. We all are prone to oversimplification and embracing partial truths, and contradictory opinions often contain the missing pieces that can turn those partial truths into a more complete picture of reality. When we shut out those who disagree with us, we cannot learn from them. It is also indisputable that censorship generally tends to serve power rather than the quest for knowledge.

And that said, it is also clear that people need to step up and stop providing a platform for the proliferation of falsehood. Several people responded to this article about disinformation by writing responses that contain some combination of valuable, sincere disagreement and repetition of the very kind of distortion that prompted the article in the first place.

I emphasized several of her remarks because I felt they were extremely relevant to what’s happening on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. And it isn’t strictly germane to “fake news.” What she says relates to discussions surrounding topics of all shapes and sizes.

I think we need to ask ourselves … are we guilty of putting forth “baseless opinion?” Have we lost sight of the “accuracy of speech?” Are we proliferating falsehoods?

A Grand Conspiracy?

I have a friend on Facebook that is absolutely and unwaveringly certain the Sandy Hook shooting was a conspiracy. He has, over a period of time, offered “proofs” on why he believes this. Now he has included the Orlando shooting. This is what he posted today:

Israel hates Arab Muslims so badly, they wish to obliterate them. Israeli children are taught to hate Palestinians from Kindergarten up. Just take a look at what Israel is doing to Muslim Palestinians and the Gaza Strip. So Israel (ISIS) attacks under the fictional ISIS flag because they cannot attack under their own flag. Why else do you think ISIS has never attacked Israel?

Now the name of ISIS is being used in other areas, like mass shootings, in an effort to alter the 2nd Amendment. Ask yourself what a terror group would want with an insignificant gay club in Florida when there are thousands of gay clubs and bars across the nation and world? The answer is Nothing. But since Florida has NO regulations on the type of weapons claimed to have been used in the club shooting, this event would be the perfect excuse (largest mass shooting in US history) to enact legislation to heavily restrict guns. Just wait and see; but whatever you do, stop believing what the news is pushing down your throats. Use your logical brains out there. With ISIS being a work of fiction between the U.K., U.S. and Israel, the group can be made to take credit for any agenda that is out there.

He also claims tragedy donation and RIP webpages (for the teacher killed at Sandy Hook) were set up on Facebook, United Way, Red Cross, and others FOUR days before the shooting occurred.

He further writes:

Who knew 4 days in advance that a shooting was to happen? The fact that a Sandy Hook tragedy was in print 4 days early proves the event was staged and faked for a multi-purpose agenda. In reality, no one died at Sandy Hook. Stop believing what you saw on the news and the sadness they made you feel in your heart and LOOK IT UP FOR YOURSELVES. Good Grief, Stop Being Propaganda Supporters. Now ask yourselves about the Florida nightclub and remove yourself from the shock that comes with the notion of a massacre and look at things objectively. I know you all want to believe that this many people could not possibly be in on a great deception; but you would be mistaken. I have studied Sandy Hook since the day it happened; and this one is unfolding the exact same way – as many other “shootings” have unfolded; with crisis actors and the works. 

Thoughts?

Man Dies, Comes Back To Life

As Mr. Bill would say, “Ohhh Nooo!!!” Not another one!

I received this from a Christian email friend.

(Unfortunately, the audio isn’t in sync with the video, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.)

This was my response to his email …

IMO, these ‘near-death’ experiences are pretty much bunk. Nearly every person who ‘experiences’ one has had some type of religious/Christian exposure and what they “see” is totally influenced by this. Awhile back, I heard about a non-believer who apparently had one of these experiences and she described things much differently. Of course, people like her don’t get the same exposure since their stories don’t go along with the ‘heavenly’ visions that Christians want/need to hear.

I do tend to think there may be a ‘spiritual dimension’ that one enters upon death, but I don’t believe it’s something anyone can ‘come back’ from.