Thursday, June 9, 2022

Everyone Loves Secrets, But Today They Are Killing Us by Charles Bouchard

 Article notes - Everyone Loves Secrets, But Today They are Killing Us by Charles Bouchard 

Everyone likes to be an insider, to get the scoop and to carry a big secret. It is human nature. Sometimes it is just a question of harmless gossip or falling for a marketer's pitch — a vague but intriguing promise of fame or fortune. When many people begin to search for and believe false information, it leads to a conspiracy theory. In a public health crisis, being drawn to that sensational nugget of information can have deadly consequences.


Lee McIntyre, the author of Post-Truth, says the book's title means that we live in an era where truth is at risk, where we're in danger of losing sight of what truth means. He defines post-truth as the "political subordination of reality" and "a tactic that's used by authoritarians and their wannabes to control the flow of information so that they can then control the populace."

Suspicion of truth has particularly dangerous consequences for science and medicine. The scientific method is our most rigorous tool for establishing truth. Yet many people reject scientific evidence of the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. They believe the virus is an effort by Russia to plant microchips in us, that it is transmitted by 5G cell phone towers or that COVID can be cured by chloroquine or an anti-parasitic drug intended for large animals. Others believe the vaccines were rushed, that they will alter our DNA or even cause autism. Just yesterday I heard one vaccine resister say he did not want to take it because it contained formaldehyde and antifreeze.


I am happy to say that Catholics are being vaccinated at a rate higher than the national average.2 Given our commitment to the common good and solidarity, that is as it should be. But vaccinations are not enough. We also need to resist the culture of secrecy and the rejection of truth that nourishes skepticism in the first place. This is where the virtue of temperance comes in.


Uncritical appropriation of conspiracy theories is a vice. The internet has a million hiding places for secret knowledge. It is easy to wander in, find a theory that consoles us with easy answers and to then share it, which can lead others to make bad choices that endanger lives.


Pope Benedict once said that we "cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life. All of us are in search of truth, and we share this profound yearning more today than ever." 


Let us be critical thinkers whose goal is truth, even when it is not as interesting or as easy to access as gossip.

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