Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 12 Biggest Lies (that mostly aren’t lies at all)

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Mark your calendars, folks! There’s a groundbreaking new documentary coming out this October on what are purported to be the “12 Biggest Lies” that we are being fed every single day. The only little problem? It’s total garbage:

And those evil falsehoods that we have forced down our throats like rancid salami every day are:

  • 1. There is no such thing as absolute Truth.
  • 2. People are inherently good.
  • 3. No one should be offended.
  • 4. Men and Women are equal.
  • 5. A fetus isn't human.
  • 6. The World is Overpopulated.
  • 7. Americans are greedy and self-centered.
  • 8. Islam is a religion of peace.
  • 9. The Jews stole Jerusalem.
  • 10. The earth is billions of years old.
  • 11. There is no God.
  • 12. Jesus was just a good man.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? See who’s really lying, here.

1. There is no such thing as absolute [t]ruth.

There is, in fact, such a thing as absolute truth – at least, in concept. The fact that humans have a limited, imperfect, imprecise and often flawed perception of the world doesn’t mean that everything we think we know is wrong. We can never truly have a grasp on absolute truth in theory due to our capacity for screwing up, but that doesn’t mean that absolute truth doesn’t exist. So, I suppose that’s one for 12 Biggest Lies (henceforth shortened to 12BL).

Score: 1/1 | Total: 1/12

2. People are inherently good.

One can only believe that people are inherently good (or bad) if they believe in absolute morality and that there truly such a thing as a universal concept of “good” and “bad”. Except that, there isn’t. What we think is good or bad behavior is simply what we interpret to be morally positive of negative through our social conditioning and expectations. People only do what makes themselves feel good (or at least, less bad than the alternative); whether these actions are, themselves, good or bad, is an entirely subjective judgment. In other words: People are not inherently good, but nor are they inherently bad – or inherently anything. So, that’s a half point to 12BL.

Score: 1.5/2 | Total: 1.5/12

3. No one should be offended.

If this is truly to be a free society that espouses freedom of speech, expression, thought and belief, it is therefore required that people be allowed to say whatever they want, no matter how false and/or offensive it may be. Even the nastiest bigots (think Fred Phelps & his crew at Westboro Baptist Church) have the unimpeded right to shout their monstrous crap from the rooftops (figuratively). Therefore, no-one has the night not to be offended, to force anyone else to shut up just because they don’t like what they hear. The only acceptable form of censorship is the right not to listen. So, that’s another point for 12BL.

Score: 2.5/3 | Total: 2.5/12

4. Men and [w]omen are equal.

If one means “equal” as in “the same in every way”, then obviously not as male and female humans differ to various extents, both physically and psychologically. However, egalitarians don’t espouse “equality” in the sense of perfect similarity, but in the sense that one is not overall better or worse than the other and that both halves, albeit different, are of equal importance to the whole of the species. One gender’s general strength completes the other’s general weakness, and vice versa, as much for men as for women. This has been studied and researched ad nauseum and the issue is more than settled. So, the idea that men and women are not equal is the first blatant falsehood 12BL presents us with.

Score: 2.5/4 | Total: 2.5/12

5. A fetus isn't human.

Well, it isn’t. A human is defined by its physical characteristics, an advanced intelligence including an ability to think abstractly, a deep capacity for emotions, and a physical and mental independence allowing it to lead its own life. A fetus has none of these traits: It only vaguely resembles a fully formed human for the vast duration of its gestation and it has no properly functioning brain or central nervous system, rendering it incapable of developing or expressing even the most rudimentary of thoughts (except during later stages of development when it begins – slowly and roughly – to form memories). So, no, by all accounts (and its genome doesn’t count as you could inject it into a rock and it still wouldn’t make it a human being), a fetus is not a human. No point for 12BL.

Score: 2.5/5 | Total: 2.5/12

6. The [w]orld is [o]verpopulated.

So I suppose all those problems with starvation, sickness and perpetual conflicts over territory and resources indicate a surplus of free land, food and water, then? Face it: There are too many humans on the planet for the natural world to be able to sustain us on its own without us actively boosting its output, and we will not be able to keep doing so for that much longer as it is. No point for 12BL.

Score: 2.5/6 | Total: 2.5/12

7. Americans are greedy and self-centered.

In fairness to Americans, it’s humans who are greedy and self-centered, not just residents of the United States. And in fairness to humans, it’s not really our fault; it’s just a survival mechanism developed through evolution dating back to our early ancestors, who really had to be grubby and selfish in order to ensure their own survival, and therefore, the continuation of the species. To say that humans are intrinsically selfless is simply and demonstrably false: Lock 12 strangers in a room with a large pizza. See how that turns out. No point.

Score: 2.5/7 | Total: 2.5/12

8. Islam is a religion of peace.

I sense another half-point coming. Half-true, in the sense that no, a religion that cranks out more extremists than all the others combined can hardly be called a religion of “peace”. But then again, no religions are truly centered around peace and create nothing but harmony and accord amongst its adherents and believers of other faiths. (One might bring up such an example as Buddhism as a possible exception, but Buddhism is generally seen and practiced as more of a personal and political ideology than an actual god-fearing, dogma-obeying religion.)

Score: 3/8 | Total: 3/12

9. The Jews stole Jerusalem.

Well, yes and no. And it’s actually more of the UN’s faulty doing than anything else; you can’t place two populations who hate each other’s guts side-by-side and expect them to get along. Check out the answers, here, for quick summaries and informative sources. All in all, a stringy half-point in 12BL’s favor.

Score: 3.5/9 | Total: 3.5/12

10. The [E]arth is billions of years old.

It is. Period.

Score: 3.5/10 | Total: 3.5/12

11. There is no God.

Is that a statement of fact (in which case it would be false) or a statement of belief (in which case it would be immaterial)? Either way, it certainly is most likely, given the evidence (or rather, complete and utter absence thereof) that God, specifically as depicted in the Abrahamic religions, does not exist. No point.

Score: 3.5/11 | Total: 3.5/12

And finally:

12. Jesus was just a good man.

Actually, there’s rising evidence to indicate that no only was Jesus of Nazareth not the Son of God, but that he didn’t really even exist at all. At any rate, this last question is the final fail in this little cavalcade of nonsense.

Total Score: 3.5/12

So, that’s just about a third of the popular “lies” presented in this mockery of a serious documentary that actually are untrue. And even then, one can hardly consider them to be as pervasive and all-directing as the promo makes it sound like; more like they’re commonly accepted feel-good falsehoods that most people think of and spit out as simple statements without really putting any serious thought into it.

Perhaps this ought to be renamed into “The 3 Biggest Lies, 2 Sorta-Lies and 9 Non-Lies”, but I suspect pencil-pushers may reach for their red stamps in record time with a title like that. So, best just ignore this one and let it swiftly sink into the ignominy that awaits it.

(via Right Wing Watch)