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Samizdata quote of the day

When political commentators talk of the emergence of a post-truth world, they are really lamenting the end of an era when the truths promoted by the institutions of the state and media were rarely challenged. It’s a lament that’s been coming for a few years now. Each revolt of sections of the public against the values of the elites has been met with the riposte that people are no longer interested in the truth. What the elites really mean is that people don’t care about their version of the truth. So when the French celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy asserted that people have ‘lost interest in whether politicians tell the truth’, he was venting his frustration at an electorate that no longer shares his values.

Frank Furedi

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Manniac

    It was late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society, he’d never learned the old tribal secrets. He couldn’t look at the sky to predict what the winter was going to be like. So just to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. After several days, he had an idea. He went to the reservation’s phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, “Will it be cold this winter?”

    “Oh, yes,” the meteorologist at the Weather Service replied, “It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold.”

    So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. “Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?”

    “Yes,” the meteorologist again replied, “It’s going to be a very cold.”

    The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. “Are you sure it’s going to be very cold winter?”

    “Absolutely,” the man replied. “It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.”

    “How can you be so sure?” the chief asked.

    “Simple,” the weatherman replied, “The Indians are collecting a sh*tload of firewood.”

  • CaptDMO

    Stephen Hawking dabbles in Sociology and

    Writers for “The Big Bang Theory” hardest hit.

  • I’m remembering the science fiction writer Larry Niven commenting on the Russian word “pravda,” or “truth,” as often meaning official truth: What the Tsar or the Party has proclaimed to be true. Perhaps the real complaint is that we are living in a post-pravda world?

  • Andrew Douglas

    ‘he was venting his frustration at an electorate that no longer shares his values’.

    In truth it’s the other way around. As the elite swallowed ever more cultural Marxist nostrums – moral relativity, easy divorce, abortion on demand, gay marriage, trans rights, multiculti blather, curbs on free expression, etc, etc – his values no longer reflect the society he is parasitical upon.

  • Paul Marks

    There is such a thing as objective truth – objective facts. But I do not know enough of the French philosopher’s work to know if he was referring to this.

    Are “the masses” or “the elite” more guilty of rejecting objective truth and going off into folly and evil?

    I think “the elite” are more guilty – but both are indeed guilty.

  • There are two processes here.

    Andrew Douglas (April 1, 2017 at 3:10 am) is right that the elite, by endlessly inventing values to re-demonstrate its elite distinction from the despised masses, has indeed moved far from its host society. It deserves the push-back it is getting. (It deserves far more than it is currently getting.)

    However there is also a more basic process; being able to share when you spot an item of politically correct, as opposed to actually correct, news.

    Before the web, it was often obvious that the elite were reporting fake news – obvious to the attentive viewer, that is. I recall the beeb summarising Bush the elder’s comments on the evening of Saddam’s invasion of Iraq in 1990. My wife turned to me and said, “But that’s not what he said at all!” – and indeed, it wasn’t; it was the beeb’s summary of what the beeb felt he should have said and must surely have intended. There were many such cases. But more than ten years passed before the web let us share such insights.

    So, how far do these two relate? Was it mere chance that the dire Greg Dyke coincided with the unleashing of the web? (He certainly made the beeb into a quite exceptionally target-rich environment for early British bloggers.) Is it mere chance that the elite seem to be getting worse even as the web exposes them more?

  • Regional

    Political Correctness is the belief that you can pick up a turd by the clean end.

  • John B

    In the post-truth World the Protestants/populist challenged the institution/Catholic Church by spreading heresy/Fake News using the recent invention, the printing press/Internet and communicating in the vernacular/blogs rather than the Latin/Mainstream Media.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  • Junican

    A good example of fake news (my bold):


    Fresh evidence that middle-age spread can lead to dementia was revealed yesterday.

    A study of almost 500 people lasting 20 years found fat people are far more likely to have failing memories.

    The Alzheimer’s peril was caused by insulin resistance – the condition behind type 2 diabetes.

    Obesity and lack of exercise can fuel it.

    Previous studies have revealed that the brain is vulnerable to the effects.

    Prof David Tanne, who led the research at Israel’s University of Tel Aviv, said people who keep fit and watch what they eat reap cognitive benefits in later life.

    He said: “Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance.

    As a result, you protect your brain”.

    The ‘cans’ and ‘maybes’ may be true, but the final ‘will’ is not demonstrated.

  • Paul Marks

    Not a very good example of “Fake News” – the example that J. produces seems more like a fairly good argument.

    It may be wrong – but it is a reasonable position.

    A much better example of “Fake News” would be the endless mainstream media stories about the cuts to government spending.

    Although the argument that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by insulin resistance is not one I have heard before – it MIGHT be true.

    “Government spending cut” is just a lie.

    Just as “government deregulation” is a lie.

    I have heard such “cuts” stories since 1979 – and each year government spending has actually gone UP.

    “Fake News” is not “an argument I disagree with”.

    “Fake News” is saying things that are just not true.

  • Ken

    It’s no different from the lament from your bitch sys admin who called all the Brexiters racist and xenophobic. He, like all the other pretend “elites”, are vampires feeding off the sweat of their brethren, brethren for whom he holds contempt because he self-styles himself a citizen of the world. He forgets borders and citizenship protect his sorry ass from those who would kill him for having those opinions if he lived in most of the rest of the world.

    Because he knows this, but won’t actually admit this to anyone, including, possibly himself, anyone who points that out MUST be a racist and xenophobe all because his brethren Brexiters spoke the truth, rather than the politically correct “truthiness”.