Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

BY GABRIELA DEL POZO, THE SUNDAY TIMES (opinion)

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The earth is 6000 years old and flat. The world is run by the Illuminati. World leaders are all secret reptilians. These are common cases of misinformation one can find on Twitter or Facebook. These social media platforms are a breeding ground for extravagant theories and the internet is a vast space that does not care for fact checking. However, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this open platform.

Freedom of speech represents the liberty to speak one’s mind, as unreasonable as thoughts may be. Thus, it seems strange that on the working paper from the Pan-Geo Bloc, the authors have mentioned that the spread of misinformation is harmful content on social media, possibly worthy of censorship. There are no further specifications regarding this topic, so a loophole arises here. Considering that Kellyanne Conway—a top Trump aide—presented a statement in which she mentioned the use of ‘alternative facts’, focus should be placed on teaching politicians to distinguish between truth and illusion.

Conway coined this term after the White House Press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the audience attending Trump’s inauguration was the largest as of date. These alternative facts are worse than misinformation since the public could interpret misinformation as a mistake or lack of knowledge. This political faux pas, however, should not be coming from the Press Secretary of the White House. What is more, what exactly does Conway mean by alternative facts?

It is no secret to the world that Donald Trump has stated several times that global warming is not real. This denial of reality is exactly what Conway means by alternative facts: the blatant acknowledgement of knowing what you are stating is a straight up lie. However, this is not your run on the mill lie. This lie has a Machiavellian purpose behind it. Their objective is to catapult the public into an age of ignorance and distrust of facts, so officials and high mandataries can do as they please without being accountable to the truth. After all, who can advocate for facts when you only feed the public misconceptions?

The timeless maxim uttered by the Roman poet Juvenal remains true today: quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards?

At this journal, we uphold the proposition that truth matters. Alternative facts end up being actual crimes against the very core of the right to an informed society. Crimes against the right to know. Instead of worrying about misinformation, delegates should be concerned about what new myths and falsehoods governments are concocting. It is most likely that if opportunity presents itself, said governments will not hesitate to present an alternative fact from what they consider a hostile or enemy government.

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