Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact

I came across this quote on Whatsapp recently:

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

I couldn't agree more. I did some research on whose quote this was and ironically, this quote is wrongly attributed to Marcus Aurelius all over the internet!

However, this does not take away from the truth of the statement. These days, you get to hear and read such contradictory 'facts' that you are never sure what is true and what isn't. Gone are the days when you could rely on news channels and the print media to deliver to you news, uncoloured by the opinions and leanings of anyone.

Online media has made it even worse. Here there is no pretense of being neutral either. When I browse through my Facebook / Twitter feeds, I very often see completely contradictory claims about the same fact posted by friends with differing loyalties.

People with staunch religious beliefs have an unquestioning attitude towards their religions. After reading the book, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, you realise that even those beliefs stand on shaky ground. By that same logic, you should not consider everything you read in the book Sapiens, to be factual!

When you realise that many things you have based your world-view upon could have questionable foundations, you feel quite insecure. What is true, what isn't? What is a fact, what is an opinion?

People who twist facts and then spread this alternative reality are doing a lot of harm to the collective conscience of humankind. But then, as much as we would like to believe that this is a recent phenomenon, in reality, this has been happening for a long, long time now. The trouble is the longer the so-called fact has been round, the more firmly entrenched it tends to be in people's minds and the truer it seems to be perceived as.

In the age of the internet, it is very difficult to separate fact from fiction. A few years back, as part of a harmless prank, I managed to convince a colleague that man had landed on Mars by sending him some links from the internet! When even such pages exist, there would obviously be a lot more authentic-looking stuff that would support some selfish narrative.

So, it would do us well to keep the above anonymous quote in mind and not accept everything we hear to be true.

1 comment:

Dinesh Aditya said...

The Dude captures this!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsogswrH6ck