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The damnable effects of narrated fallacies

Countries have been brought to their kneels with careless statements that could have simply been avoided. The game of politics has never been fair to either parties. It has always come down to the survival of the fittest. It is dirty, requires mud-slinging and much more than a man’s average mind can phantom.

Fallacies, sometimes even regarded as truths have been told which eventually led to disastrous effects and much worse, collateral damage like never before. The truth has always and will remain bitter. But certain people have told seemingly bitter truths that eventually translated to bitter experiences for the parties involved.

The aim of this article is to enumerate instances where the so called ‘facts or truth’ turned out to be blatant lies. But this only happened after the damage had been done. Let us dive right in.

In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, the President Bush-led administration launched a full scale war against Iraq after accusing Saddam Hussein who was the President of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. This information was retrieved from an informant known as ‘curveball’ whose credibility was eventually rubbished. No single verified document was able to indicate the veracity of the claims of the informant who claimed Iraq was building nuclear war heads and WMD. However, the wheels had already been fast set into motion.

In a war that had trillions of dollars sunk in eight years, hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives with many others still bearing the consequences till today in form of injuries, addictions, life-threatening diseases and countless more.

Another is the story of the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes which for a long time was denied. This was as far back as the early 90s. In 1994 in USA, James W. Johnston, C.E.O of R.J Reynolds informed a congressional committee that “cigarette smoking is no more ‘addictive’ than coffee, tea or Twinkies.” Of course this was a gargantuan lie that was soon discovered for what it was.

In 1998, the four largest tobacco manufacturers in America reached a settlement with 46 states to pay $206 billion dollars spanning 25 years to cater for the medical costs of smoking-related illnesses. This could have been avoided if only these companies didn’t just care only for the profits and revenues derived from the sale of cigarettes.

Remember Joseph Stalin? In 1930, he hatched a plan to discongest certain areas in Ukraine and this he achieved by starvation and millions eventually died of hunger. Walter Duranty, a reporter with the New York times who had won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Stalinist Russia insisted that there was no famine. His comments allayed the fears of the international world and caused them to backtrack thereby preventing them to press for famine relief. In other words, the whole world quietly looked on as millions we’re imprisoned and starved to death in concentration camps.

What of the case of Libya? According to an online research site Global Research, America claimed that Ghadaffi had threatened to annihilate the people of Benghazi without mercy but the New York Times reported that his grouse was with rebel fighters and not civilians.

However this did not prevent the Obama-led administration from dropping bombs from high up in the air on Libya’s people and trying to overthrow the country claiming to be fighting a humanitarian war. Infact it is reported that the African Union had progressed in peace talks with Ghaddafi but this did not deter the continuous invasion of the US government on Libya at that time.

These cases go to show how a small twist of the truth can negatively impact a complete generation of people in worst cases. The truth, no matter how bitter it is has to be told. If the ‘truth’ ends up not being the truth then the parties should quickly own up and accept their errors rather than burying it and painting a rather deceptive picture for the world to see and perceive.

Famous Politicians who were caught lying publicly

Over the years Politicians have been renowned for lying shamelessly even when they did not have to. We have a compiled a list of past American politicians who told certain lies. The list is endless but let’s consider these few.

 

 According to an article by the American  Conservative, President. Johnson promulgated a myriad of falsehoods and cover-ups surrounding Vietnam and so much more. Distinguished historian Robert Dallek, in Lyndon B. Johnson, summed things up by repeating a popular joke from the time: “How do you know when Lyndon Johnson is telling the truth? When he pulls his ear lobe or scratches his chin, he’s telling the truth. When he begins to move his lips, you know he’s lying.” 

And if infidelity equals a lack of integrity, then I’d argue that Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, was one of the most dishonest presidents to have ever lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. JFK’s numerous affairs are fair game when assessing his character because, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin put it, “Someone who refuses to deal honestly with his private life may well distort the reality he confronts in public office.”

 

In An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, details of six salacious affairs that Kennedy juggled while he was president is given. Among his alleged mistresses were three White House secretaries (one was his wife Jackie’s press secretary) and a 19-year-old college sophomore and White House intern.

JFK’s most shameful lie, though, concerned the Bay of Pigs fiasco when he promised the American people that there would be “no military intervention in Cuba.” Just five days later on April 17, 1961, the CIA-led and Kennedy approved covert invasion of the island not only cost the lives of many, but resulted in a breakdown of trust and communication with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev—conditions that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later.

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt also struggled to maintain integrity, both in his personal life and in politics. For one thing, he and his administration went to great lengths to hide the extent of his health problems from voters during his New York gubernatorial and presidential campaigns. Another lie came out repeatedly when he was trying to win a third term in the White House: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” He added at another campaign rally: “Your president says this country is not going to war.”

 

His words made for good campaign rhetoric as a peace candidate, but FDR was lying. Even as he made such assurances, he knew war with Germany and Japan was likely inevitable and he and Winston Churchill were secretly planning accordingly. It’s worth mentioning as well that, like Kennedy, FDR had an affair with his wife’s secretary, and that according to his biographer Jean Edward Smith, it was FDR’s mistress, not his wife, who was “the last face FDR saw before he died.”

Another lie was from President Obama who when defending the NSA mentioned repeatedly that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” President Nixon tried to cover up his role in the Watergate scandal, President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath, and President George W. Bush out-fibbed them all when he said there was “no doubt” Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, falsely justifying America’s entry into yet another horrific war.

The lies told by these great men impacted lives. The effects of some even still exist till date. It is obvious these men may have failed the true test of integrity at different times yet they attained and many even maintained their esteemed position even after these lies were uncovered. A president should not need to lie. A lie told at such an elevated level is capable of remaining unverifiable as all checks to validate it may keep bouncing back due to the many forces that could end up being in play.

The Art of Lying

They say to beat a system you need to understand and must even have had enormous experience with that system. The aim of this article to scientifically look deeply into the art of lying. By doing so we can then be able to filter out fibs and information from people that are untrue. A greater part of this article has been culled from scientificamerican.com.

Electrical stimulation of the prefrontal cortex appears to improve our ability to deceive. This region of the brain may, among other things, be responsible for the decision to lie or tell the truth.

Most people have trouble recognizing false statements. Some polygraph tests are better at it yet are far from perfect. Researchers are trying to use imaging methods to distinguish truth from lies. Intensified activity in the prefrontal cortex may be an indicator of the process by which we decide to lie or not—but it tells us nothing about the lie itself.

A 51-year-old man had a strange problem. When he tried to tell a lie, he often passed out and had convulsions. In essence, he became a kind of Pinocchio, the fictional puppet whose nose grew with every fib. For the patient, the consequences were all too real: he was a high-ranking official in the European Economic Community (since replaced by the European Union), and his negotiating partners could tell immediately when he was bending the truth. His condition, a symptom of a rare form of epilepsy, was not only dangerous, it was bad for his career.

The man’s plight demonstrates the far-reaching consequences of even minor changes in the structure of the brain. But perhaps just as important, it shows that lying is a major component of the human behavioral repertoire; without it, we would have a hard time coping. When people speak unvarnished truth all the time—as can happen when Parkinson’s disease or certain injuries to the brain’s frontal lobe disrupt people’s ability to lie—they tend to be judged tactless and hurtful. In everyday life, we tell little white lies all the time, if only out of politeness: Your homemade pie is awesome (it’s awful). No, Grandma, you’re not interrupting anything (she is). A little bit of pretense seems to smooth out human relationships without doing lasting harm.

Of course, not everyone agrees that some lying is necessary. Generations of thinkers have lined up against this perspective. The Ten Commandments admonish us to tell the truth. The Pentateuch is explicit: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Islam and Buddhism also condemn lying. For 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, the lie was the “radical innate evil in human nature” and was to be shunned even when it was a matter of life and death.

Current thinking about the psychological processes involved in deception holds that people typically tell the truth more easily than they tell a lie and that lying requires far more cognitive resources. First, we must become aware of the truth; then we have to invent a plausible scenario that is consistent and does not contradict the observable facts. At the same time, we must suppress the truth so that we do not spill the beans—that is, we must engage in response inhibition. What is more, we must be able to assess accurately the reactions of the listener so that, if necessary, we can deftly produce adaptations to our original story line.

And there is the ethical dimension, whereby we have to make a conscious decision to transgress a social norm. All this deciding and self-control implies that lying is managed by the prefrontal cortex—the region at the front of the brain responsible for executive control, which includes such processes as planning and regulating emotions and behavior.

It is quite obvious that lying involves so much hardwork and this is a major step towards detecting a lie easily. A lie will always have to best conceived to look and sound perfect. Tools used to detect lies have been in existence but they can’t always be guaranteed to be effective. Moreso, you can’t tell a politician giving a manifesto to randomly take a lie test before his statements are aired. That would be absurd.

However when we realise the sometimes small but significant changes that occur in our body system when we tell a lie it will enable us look for quick tell-tale signs of statements without veracity and enable us correct and fact-check to ensure we don’t peddle the wrong information.

The Truth that Unchains

We all know the popular saying “the truth will set you free”. That statement has never been truer than before. Truth gives life, changes lives and guarantees peace. Any truth need satisfy certain conditions that must have been pre-established. Once these elements are not present, it becomes questionable and the veracity will be in doubt.

What is truth? According to Wikipedia, “Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth is also sometimes defined in modern contexts as an idea of “truth to self”, or authenticity.”

Earlier this year, a mini-series was aired on Netflix “When they see us”. It told a story of how five teenagers tagged the ‘Central Park Five’ had their lives dramatically altered after they were wrongly accused of raping a white woman. At that time it was not discovered to have been a lie and incriminating evidence were conjured up to ensure they were convicted of the crime. A few years later the actual criminal who committed the crime owned up and thus they were vindicated. However, this was after they had spent a greater part of their early 20s in incarceration.

You will realise from this occurrence that a truth can be told in different ways. A truth can be backed up with facts and evidences and still end up being a hoax. A truth could also just be hearsay and yet end up as an undisputable fact. This also goes to show that a certain truth in a court of law may not be seen as a truth in a church.

Different bodies and organisations have standards for determining the authenticity of any ‘truth’. The media has proven ways to determine the actual facts of a case. However we won’t be going into that. But we will identify certain elements, any truth must have which cuts across anybody, organisation, religion, government and people.

One, the truth must correspond with an object of that truth. The claim that Aso Rock, (where the Nigeria’s president lives) is located in Abuja is true if and only if Aso Rock is in Abuja which we know to be a fact. If a claim arises that ‘Aso Rock’ is located in Lagos that becomes untrue. This is actually an easy one to identify since one aspect of the claim must be satisfy an already verified aspect of the claim.

Secondly, for any claim to be accepted as a truth it must be coherent. This means details describing a certain event must follow a sequential order or pattern. All facts pertaining to the truth must be consistent and blend to form a complete whole. Imagine a scenario where a traveller is robbed along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. In recounting it, he mentions certain details which may include their vehicle having a flat tire, and then they having to stop to fix it. And then suddenly from nowhere armed men appear and order that they all surrender their possessions. An in-depth analysis will show us that many parts of this story already give credibility to a robbery story.

This is because a robbery is best carried out in the night when there are few security officials around to prevent it. Also, stationed vehicles are more prone to robbery on a highway than a fast-moving vehicle. This is another aspect that makes the recount be believable. Finally, the fact that there was no announcement from the robbers before attacking also validates the story. If the passengers were alerted of their presence in time, some of them may have been able to escape into a bush and therefore would not have been robbed. All these facts happened in sequence that allows the truth to be remain unquestioned to a very large extent.

Finally, any truth must be pragmatic. To a pragmatist, if an idea works then it must be true. This is the basis upon which this third and final criteria stands on. So if I were to say a cure for HIV has been discovered, it will mean that when the cure has been found effective on a patient, then the above premise will be accepted as a fact. However, this criteria is not infallible and tends to produce false truths.

These theories of truth can be applied to many cases of unverified information, rumours and unfounded statements that tend to put people in a frenzy if allowed to go unverified. Next time you want to get carried away with that salacious piece of news, consider it critically again.

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