Just because you are right, does not mean, I am wrong.
This statement helps drives the fake-news movement. This idea shuts down intellectual conversation. Allowing yourself to curl up inside this comfortable comment relieves an amazing amount of cognitive pain.
This statement also absolves you of responsibility. Responsibility from truth, facts, knowledge, and admitting that sometimes you, as sometimes all of us, are wrong.
Look at that picture. Think about this scenario.
I walk up to a number painted on the sidewalk at the corner of 1st St and 1st Ave. From what I see (referencing the picture above) I declare the number to be a six. At that point in time I have made a valid observation, but have no proof that I am in fact correct. Let me repeat, at that point in time the *observation* is valid, but no proof beyond my own experiences exists to support it or make it fact.
You then walk up to me, a letter in hand. Your note, however silly, is a notarized letter stating, “My name is Bob Smith and on June 1, 2016, I, at the intersection of 1st St and 1st Ave, painted a number nine on the ground.”
Backed by factual evidence, you calmly state to me that despite my observation, the number is a nine.
At this point my options are:
- Begin screaming your letter is fake news, stomping away declaring myself correct.
- State that you can have your opinion and I’ll have mine, aka you are right but so am I.
- Be an adult, accept the new information, and adjust my thought.
Spend more than a few moments on any right wing Facebook page, news site, or Twitter feed and you will crash into that first point again and again.
Spend more than a few moments on any left wing Facebook page, news site, or Twitter feed an you will encounter, more frequently than you should, the second point.
Encounter someone capable of the third point and you should consider yourself a lucky minority.
I am not stating this is always the case, nor am I suggesting there are not high-level topics where counter-viewpoints are entirely valid. What I am suggesting is we live in a world so averse to any cognitive discomfort we have allowed terms like fake news to exist as valid counters to verifiable fact. We have allowed general opinion to hold equal weight to reproducible truth.
Opinions have their place and by their very nature require debate and discussion. On reproducible facts and verifiable truth, the time has long since arrived to start acceptance and agreement.