Everything is a lie (except it isn’t, not everything)

One of the biggest challenges with politics is the prevalence of falsehoods. These days those spread throughout our world faster than the speed of thought thanks to the invention of the meme. Here’s one that I came across. I blurred out the specific topic it was about, because that’s the distraction:

There are two parts to this lie. First is the insistence that the claim is a “truth bomb.” Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you have to tell someone how powerful/brilliant/mind-blowing an idea is, then it’s probably not actually that special. Genuine innovations or jaw-dropping statistics speak for themselves.

Second, there is the use of the word “everything.” Now for the second rule: if a claim uses absolutist language (e.g. everything, nothing, always, or never) then it’s likely an exaggeration if not a flat out lie. Most of the time, there are exceptions. Or as the old saying goes extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Do you find yourself wanting to know what this meme was about? It went on to say “everything the government is doing right now is designed to make you fat, weak, stupid, depressed, and lazy—” which obviously is not true. The government is installing stop signs. The government is sending people to inspect factories for safety. The government is paying teachers and firefighters. And of course the government is doing things like requiring food to have ingredients printed on the label, which is the opposite of the specific claim.

This is another way that lies are spread. Watch out for the word “everything.” It often signals that someone is trying to make you angry rather than to encourage you to think.

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