Good people with good intent were at our Trusting in Truth conference. Many more good people criticise ‘fake news’ every day and call for accuracy, deliberation, and civil discussion.
But good people are also the problem. We all get sucked into rash judgements, condemnation and self-serving selection of facts.
This was amply demonstrated over the past few months with the US vaping illness saga. The establishment’s response had the hallmarks of mob justice; it had created a “baddie” out of standard vaping some time ago. When the lung issue hit, it was primed to blame vaping, and to present patients as the ‘good guys’.
This attitude prevented the establishment from seeing the issues clearly – even when evidence showing vaping wasn’t the cause was available in the first week of the incidents.
It’s since been officially confirmed that all the patients had used street-bought or self-made fluid mixtures that combined cannabis with a vitamin e oil. Neither of those are used in legally sold products.
A complicating factor was the tendency for people to believe “victims” in stories. It turned out that the patients had indeed lied. Check here for a fact check of the true story that emerged about every patient.
We like good vs bad stories so much that we’ve now even created a story that ‘bad’ news, like ‘fake news’ comes from bad people.
But it doesn’t. Most of the danger to truthful communication is posed by the ease with which good people with good intentions willingly suspend their own reasoning faculties.