By Kent R. Kroeger (September 11, 2022)
I’ve written elsewhere about lying. And readers have openly disputed my view on the issue. “Speaking ignorance is a type of lying,” wrote one reader.
No, it is not. Spreading ignorance is what communications researchers call misinformation, which is distinguishable from disinformation, which is the deliberate promulgation of false information (i.e., lying).
Ignorance is not a form of lying. To suggest otherwise is to indict everyone as serial liars.
If your education and experience leads to believing things that are not true, that is not necessarily on you, it can also be the result of the institutions, environment, and peer groups within which you were informed.
Subsequently, when you utter nonsense, you are not a liar — your are just ill-informed. We are all subject to that harsh critique. I utter nonsense on a daily basis. [I believe Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback in NFL history — no joke, I really do.]
I may be wrong on this topic, but I am not a liar. I simply have failed to accept the evidence that contradicts my deeply-ingrained beliefs and impenetrable Packer fandom.
We are all guilty of this type of intellectual failure. Practically speaking, independent of our IQs, experience and education, we can be seduced into wrong, even if well-intentioned, thinking.
Opinions are everywhere.
Men can become women? And vice versa? The U.S. can’t afford a national health care system? The U.S. can afford to pay off student debt for financially insecure students? Nuclear power is safe? The Yemeni Houthis are an existential threat to Saudi Arabia? The 2022 presidential election was stolen? The 2016 presidential election was stolen? Nicolas Cage is one of Hollywood’s greatest actors? These are not necessarily empirical hills on which I would want to die, though I do have opinions on each. But they are just that — opinions, not indisputable facts.
And, and in most cases, a wrong opinion on any issue is not due to getting our information from liars (though they do exist), but more likely the result of the experts we rely who are misinformed and/or biased which subsequently clouds their judgment and, by extension, ours.
It is not a bad habit to question everything you read, hear or see. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid strong beliefs or opinions — but it would be wise to prepare to be wrong.
I always am.
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