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Thursday, 5 March 2020

The blurring of facts and opinions

Monday evening, I noticed an opinion by a Dutch doctor: "The reporting on the coronavirus is more damaging than the virus itself". From a health perspective, I couldn't agree more. Also see my recent blog: Virus epidemics. The mass hysteria on the coronavirus is being fed by nearly all media. What explains this blurring of fact and opinion?

The simplest of all explanations should be the commercial success (eg, clicks, likes, sales volume). I think, feel and believe that this explanation is valid but not overwhelmingly.

The blurring of fact and opinion has been happening for some decades. In March 2016, I published my blog Why are opinions stronger than facts?

The ultimate answer is that societies are moving from Needs to Wants to Beliefs (my blogs) and then back again to Needs, following major events (eg, asteroids, earthquakes, pandemics, volcanic eruptions, wars). Only individuals - and not societies - seem able to reach the 4th (and final?) stage of an Awakening (my blogs).

For an elaboration on why societies seem unable to reach the final stage of Awakening, please see my 2017 and 2018 blogs: Knowledge = Power and the Great Filter in civilisations (5)Enlightenment vs False Beliefs, The rise and fall of nations (4)Conceptual framework (4) - drivers of human behaviour, and Needs, Wants, Beliefs & Awakening.

There is another reason which is happening almost simultaneously: the accelerating pace of Change in global societies, following the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100. This accelerating pace is like a centrifugal force. The faster the pace of Change, the more (balanced) facts in the "middle" become (extreme) opinions at the fringes.

Last but not least, what is the difference between a fact and an opinion? Karl Popper (1902-1994) would argue that a fact is an objective truth, while an opinion is a subjective truth (my 2019 blog). However, both fact and opinion do not qualify as absolute truths. A simple comparison would be a coin: looking at two sides equals objective, looking at one side is subjective, but did someone look at the inscriptions on the edge?

My mother once argued to me that she is entitled to her own opinions. I was silent for a moment as this argument was new to me. In and of itself, this intriguing argument is valid rather than true. Debating becomes meaningless when people apply that argument. It's the last resort for people who know that their opinions do not even qualify as subjective truths.

The Last Resort (1977) by the Eagles

Who will provide the grand design? 
What is yours and what is mine? 
Because there is no more new frontier 
We have got to make it here 
We satisfy our endless needs and 
Justify our bloody deeds 
In the name of destiny 
And in the name of God


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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