I know the world is changing radically when none other than the prestigious Oxford Dictionary committee add a word to their volumes – and that word is POST-TRUTH.
See for yourself here, where there are also graphs of the astounding rise in the concept in 2016.
Quote “After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’…The term has moved from being relatively new to being widely understood in the course of a year – demonstrating its impact on the national and international consciousness.”
In short, people are now believing what they see and read on the basis of their emotional reaction, regardless of verifiable facts. It’s become so easy to manipulate people’s feelings that they will hotly defend a lie even when they are shown the truth.
Indeed, so impossible is it to prevent people trusting in hoaxes, that the website Hoaxbusters is closing down after 17 years of exposing Internet hoaxes because, in their own words, hoaxes have changed into conspiracy theories and political misinformation and are spread by people whose only interest is in reading news that conforms to their previous point of view. No matter the actual facts, people will believe what they want to, and TRUTH IS IRRELEVANT.
What better explanation of “post-truth” can we find?
The change in the world’s way of thinking, demonstrated by the Oxford Dictionary amongst others, is a reality that is and will impact us all. In particular, it opens the door to massive global deception on a scale never before experienced.
The phenomenon seems especially alive in Christian circles, perhaps because Christians are more likely to believe in the supernatural or apocalyptic predictions that non believers would dismiss out of hand.
And they are more disposed to believe in a government cover-up or the conspiracies of “The Elite” than those in the world. Christians are bound to see evidence of a corrupt and failing world system because to a great extent this is genuinely happening. Unfortunately that makes them prey to any kind of imaginary story that goes around. But the danger doesn’t stop there.
The Unreliable Influence of the Flesh
What really troubles me about it, is the knee-jerk reaction of the flesh, the emotional response that causes Christians to say “I told you so, I knew that was happening, the media has suppressed it…” but without ANY hard evidence to back it up.
On some occasions they may be correct. But the difficulty lies in distinguishing truth from sensationalism and hype.
A grain of truth can be decorated with all kinds of silly fantasies and made to sound overwhelmingly dangerous; a chance word used out of context can lead to a public speaker being pilloried all over the Net for saying something unintended. (His or her denials are then made out to be a cover-up.)
To grasp at such tendentious information with a mind devoid of suspicion (in fact, a mind eager to believe), and to circulate it without checking carefully into the real facts, is surely what the bible calls gossip or bearing false witness!
Bearing false witness is mentioned many times in the Bible, exclusively as something bad. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” is the ninth of the Ten Commandments. False witness, or spreading a false report, is associated with the wicked (Exodus 23:1), willing to do violence to others (Psalm 27:12), and sowing discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:19). The Bible calls bearing false witness lying (Proverbs 14:5) and compares a man who bears false witness against his neighbour to a violent weapon (Proverbs 25:18). Lies harm people. A false witness is one who stands up and swears before others that something untrue is true, especially with the intention of hurting someone else or ruining his reputation. This happened to David (Psalm 27:12), Jesus (Matthew 26:60; Mark 14:56), and Paul (Acts 6:13).
At no time are Christians encouraged to react to and rely upon the FLESH (emotions, feelings, wishes and thoughts) instead of proven TRUTH and FACTS. That includes God’s written word.
- Gal 5:16-17 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
- Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”.
We are commanded to DIE to the flesh life that the world depends upon, and to do it DAILY.
When something is DEAD, it is inert, incapable of springing up and influencing anyone or anything. It still exists, but not in a dominant role.
By choice and decision we must relegate our own impulsive and demanding thoughts and feelings, desires and emotions, to a lesser place of influence, and go to GOD all the time for direction and guidance.
Then when we do use our powers of thought and feeling we will know it is truly godly, not reactionary, hasty or misdirected.
Fake News Rules
We have seen how titbits of information go viral almost instantly, telling us that some celebrity or other has died when they are very much alive, or that Tesco is giving away gift cards simply for liking their Facebook page (and so on).
Fake news (spam) has been around almost since the dawn of the Internet age, but it was once just a minor annoyance.
Now – and especially in this year of the EU Referendum and the US election – fake or exaggerated news reports have almost taken over from good reliable information. Indeed, there are today some who no longer trust any mainstream media, tossing them all into a big “liberal” black hole in favour of anonymous web sites who claim to have “insider knowledge”.
What Are Their Motives?
Some fakers are simply trolling, making fun out of those gullible enough to believe in their overblown reports. Yet many or most of these lying websites are money-making click-bait and/or deliberate ‘agent provocateur’ frauds designed to sway people to one side or other of a debate.
An investigation by BuzzFeed News traced about 100 political “news” sites trafficking in fake stories to a single small town in the Balkan state of Macedonia, where groups of college students and teenagers discovered they could rake in big bucks by generating phoney “news” stories and sharing them on Facebook where they would quickly go viral.
Two separate news organisations this year — BuzzFeed News and the UK Guardian newspaper — investigated the origins of fake news sites and found a large number were based in Macedonia, a Balkan nation bordering on Greece to the south, Kosovo and Serbia to the north.
Buzzfeed found in their survey that 38 percent of stories generated by right-wing, pro-Trump sites were false, or contained falsehoods blended with fact to create a misleading impression. On left-leaning sites, which would tend to support Clinton or in many cases her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, 19 percent were false or contained significant fabrications.
The Washington Post also investigated and found that:
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia. Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.
I would not be surprised if your first reaction to that news is to denounce it as liberal propaganda and lies, created simply to attack those who supported Trump and designed to challenge his victory in the election. Yes?
The news reports above are no doubt one-sided, I agree, but that does not rule them out entirely.
Today there is too often a reaction to the news that is purely “black or white” in which everything from the “wrong” source is rejected out of hand, and everything from the “right” source is believable. Nothing is that simple. We cannot rule out the brainwork that determines the truth of what we read by condemning everything we don’t like.
It is possible to make allowances when we know the motives and sources of material, but once having done that, we move on to discovering if the basic facts and figures are true.
This is equally true of religious websites, some of which might have a page of useful information DESPITE it coming from an unacceptable source.
Are You Biased?
For a moment, as an experiment, imagine what your feelings would be if the newspapers above had reported exactly the same findings but exposing Clinton support and Trump attacks as largely engineered by Internet trolls and (say) Muslims. Would you feel the same level of suspicion? You would probably then applaud the newspaper for exposing the truth instead of being annoyed.
Do you see how easy it is to become biased in your feelings?
This is just a minor experiment. But if you are ALREADY condemning these surveys (without looking up the data independently) as being deliberate left-wing media lies, because you are a faithful Republican and Trump supporter, or for any other reason, you may need to give yourself a reality audit to see if you are denying facts simply because you object to them (or alternatively, believing what you read just because you agree with it.)
So why then DID the Russian, Balkan as well as American activists target Trump supporters, and flood the internet with anti-Clinton information?
The answer is simple enough: they saw advantages for their own national interests in Trump being President, and it was far easier to misdirect Trump supporters than Clinton ones (because the former were more naturally inclined to demonise Clinton than vice versa. Probably with good reason – but even so!)
In other words, all the fakers had to do was play on the already-existing fears and suspicions of Republicans and exaggerate them to the point of absurdity.
Were YOU Taken In?
Examples of lying reports recently were:
- Actor Denzel Washington “switches to Trump” and “speaks out against Obama”
- Pope Francis publicly endorsed Trump
- Pope Francis publicly endorsed Clinton
- Pope Francis said God had told him to change the 10 Commandments
- Clinton Foundation bought illegal arms and ammunition ready for November
- Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin were lesbian lovers
- LEGO is directly responsible for cancer deaths in the UK
- The Temple of Baal is being rebuilt in New York
- Justin Trudeau Is Fidel Castro’s Love Child
- There are aborted fetuses in food
- Red Bull contains bull semen
- All Americans are to be implanted by a RFID chip by 2017
- Snopes website owners were arrested for fraud
- The UN is to vote on a resolution to eliminate organised religion
- Muslims called for a ban on Peppa Pig cartoon
- Trump once said that burning the American flag was an acceptable protest
- Doctors in South Africa performed the first head transplant operation
- Clinton has a body double
- FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in murder-suicide
- Criminals are tracking people with free key rings giveaways at gas stations
- Entering your PIN backwards at an ATM summons the police
- Putin has declared Soros a wanted man “dead or alive” with a million dollar bounty
And so it goes on, unstoppable amounts of pseudo-news pumped out for social media re-circulation. Some of it even makes its way into national newspapers because it is so hard to trace to source, and often mixes fact with fiction or puts a spin on the real events.
Where is This Leading?
In themselves, fake stories just end up being an embarrassment to those who circulate them (and who hasn’t?). They are rarely very harmful. BUT, they are paving the way for a much more sinister escalation and preparation on a scale we have not seen since the First and Second world wars.
The Historic Fake News Campaign
However, this depended for its spread on word of mouth and printed tracts – for those who could obtain and read them – and was a slow-burn sort of approach that took decades to burst fully into the fires of persecution.
Interestingly, the same kind of knee-jerk reaction was needed in those who heard or read the propaganda, for many did already blame the Jews for all their ills, and wanted to be provided with a good reason to get rid of them. (Perhaps we might be witnessing a similar process today against all Muslims, regardless of their intentions?)
Those who read the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” lapped up the supposed conspiracy amongst Jewish leaders and used it against them, despite it being a fraud.
It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. According to the claims made by some of its publishers, the Protocols are the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting where Jewish leaders discussed their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies.
Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the U.S. in the 1920s. Adolf Hitler was a major proponent.
It was studied, as if factual, in German classrooms after the Nazis came to power in 1933, despite having been exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921. It is still widely available today in numerous languages, in print and on the Internet, and continues to be presented by some proponents as a genuine document.
No doubt you, like me, even today stumble over conspiracy websites (often run by a certain type of Christian) that continue to claim that a secret elite of Jews is steering world events and planning our destruction, despite this fiction being over a hundred years old. But sensational lies spread faster than the sober (and dull) truths!
Notwithstanding, the Protocols today just serve to prove that people will believe almost anything if they really want to, and if they sympathise with the idea in the first place. It is far easier to tell a child that chocolate is a healthy food than to explain that eating greens is good for you!
The Aim of Deception
Two equally powerful sets of circumstances have now merged to create a behemoth of fatal proportions. One is the proliferation of thousands of propagandists and liars, and the other is the dedication of those who are determined to believe them. (Not in all cases, obviously! I am speaking in general.)
A mindset is being created in a huge proportion of the world’s population. That mindset is the readiness to seek out and trust in fascinating, exciting and sensational bits of news without bothering to check their veracity.
What happens when that news is no longer about the colour of Starbucks coffee cups, or the Disney logo, but something much more damaging to God’s truth, something so subtle and believable that the majority of the world’s population are already ready to believe it.
I don’t really want to suggest what that lie might be, because I don’t know, but I KNOW IT WILL COME.
What is it that could be acceptable to most people, even to a great number of Christians, yet be a complete lie? A lie so powerful that it will discredit the bible instantly, and put strong doubt into the minds of the unwary.
2 Tim 4:3-5 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [desires] shall they draw to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto myths. But you watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fully carry out your ministry.
The world is being prepared! The flesh has taken control, and is guiding the thought processes of many. The counter-arguments are seen as outdated and unacceptable in this modern day and age.
A new and exciting discovery, or interpretation, a recovered manuscript or artefact, an irrefutable piece of “evidence” that stands religion on its head… no matter what, it will have the force of a hurricane, and spread around the world faster than a rocket.
When the Internet, and all your social media as well as your friends and family are peddling this exciting news, how will you withstand the pressure, if you give first priority to your feelings?
Are you ready to be sceptical in the face of all seeming evidence to the contrary? Are you prepared to be shunned, blocked, unfriended, criticised and scorned when you fail to go with the popular thinking? (As Jesus was!!)
After all, Jesus told us that no servant is above his master, and if they hated him they will hate us also. (John 15:20)
Are you one who “seeks out the truth of a matter”? Are you unwilling to accept first impressions; are you by nature cautious and reluctant to believe everything you hear? Or are you quick to react and pass on bits of news without even bothering to go and check the source or see the full article?
Be honest, how often do you read more than the headline and first paragraph of a post? Websites depend on that; they spend hours figuring out ways of making you react instantly – don’t be emotionally manipulated!!
The ONLY protection against swerving into the popular myth and deception of these last days is to stand on the ROCK, and refuse to be moved. There is only ONE unshakeable truth, and ONE Person who is utterly dependable every second of every day. God will never change or deceive you.
God and his word are the same yesterday, today and for EVER! Try arguing against that!
If we start now to develop scepticism, and shun lazy habits of instant acceptance, if we set our teeth to read and KNOW the truth inwardly, as well as checking out what people say and do before believing them, we will be mentally and spiritually prepared for the battle.
BE BRAVE! BECOME A SCEPTIC AND STAND OUT FROM THE HERD!
A few websites that expose fakes:
- Hoax Slayer
- Truth or Fiction
- Fake News Watch
- A comprehensive and ever-expanding list of unsafe sites, with important information on how to spot the fakes, such as domain names ending in com.co [PDF file]
LINK: Growing into a strong Christian. How to become mature and avoid the knee-jerk reactions…
Start here (offsite link)