In quick succession, three events clearly illuminate the shape of the world we live in. Quick flashes of lightning, each successively brighter, blinding: What does the thunder say?
First, on the weekend the radical-alarmist news blog ZeroHedge received a permanent ban on its Twitter account. Why? Because they’d singled out, named and ‘doxed’ a Chinese researcher as the source of the novel coronavirus presently arcing toward global pandemic status, implying that this virus had a human, engineered, origin.
Second, the IPSOS poll of Australian voters released on Monday 3 February revealed that among the ‘rusted on’ supporters of the Liberal-National coalition, responses to ‘I have serious doubts whether climate change is occuring’ increased from 27% to 38% over the last year—that year being both the hottest and driest in the hundred-plus years records have been kept, and in the midst of bushfires of unprecedented severity.
Finally, the spectacular collapse of the Iowa Caucuses (with results still undeclared as I write this) have fueled endless speculation about vote rigging.
We are in an social environment where everything is flammable—every topic, every issue, every opinion, every personality—and yet everywhere we see incidents of arson. Some appear intentional, as in the case with ZeroHedge; others, as in Iowa, seem the product of simple stupidity. Whatever the cause, no one should be allowed to light matches; in this new normal there is no guarantee that they won’t accidentally burn everything down around them.
Lies spread so quickly (thank you, Facebook, and hello! Twitter) and the truth so slowly precisely because the truth requires certification, verification, multiple checks and sensitivity. The truth is slow and will ever be thus because to know anything at all takes time and effort. Only lies are effortless—because they are supported by nothing but beliefs and intentions.
Speaking both as a futurist and as a pioneer of the Web, I feel compelled to issue a warning: We are now sailing directly into a fog of lies so thick that to know anything at all will become both the most important and most difficult task at hand. These lies—like all lies—seek to confuse, to pollute the truth, to dishearten, and disable. They seek power in darkness, and create this darkness in order to come to power.
What then is to be done? We must adhere to the slow, the careful, and the truthful. We must shine the light of truth, using that to dispel the fog of lies. And we must do this, day-in, day-out, forever. The truth is hard work, but it beats blind confusion. It’s the only thing that can.
Mark Pesce is a futurist, inventor, speaker and writer.