The post-truth discernment

As we are living in a post-truth world, where information is weaponized to gain as much attention as possible without regard for truth, it is imperative that we, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, discern truth that we not be deceived. So many people just look at a headline and believe it to be true because they want to believe it, rather than look into what is actually true. Often, I have been asked “how do you discern the truth?” Today, I want to give you an example and walk you through how even a conservative media site can distort the truth to attract viewership, what is called in the business “eyes.” This example is the headline: “Nonvoters, Registered Democrats Among Those Arrested at Capitol Protest.”

Immediately, those who want to believe that the January 6 assault on the Capitol was infiltrated by Democrats, Antifa and Black Lives Matter extremists who hijacked the peaceful protest of conservatives will respond to this headline, “Ahah! See, I told you so.” And then go on without reading the story or checking into it further, pass on the content of the headline to others. This particular headline is Breitbart’s interpretation of a CNN story reporting that of 180 arrested, it was able to obtain voting records for more than 80 of the initial arrestees. CNN reported, “at least eight of the people who are now facing criminal charges for their involvement in the events at the Capitol did not vote in the November 2020 presidential election.”

CNN further wrote: “Most voted in the presidential election, and while many were registered Republicans, a handful were registered as Democrats in those jurisdictions that provided party information — though who someone votes for is not publicly disclosed. Public access to voter history records varies by state, and CNN was unable to view the records of some of those charged.” So what we are seeing here is that the Breitbart headline, while technically accurate, was slanted toward a narrative. Newsmax was a bit more responsible with its headline in re-covering the CNN story, “Some Capitol Rioters Didn’t Vote in 2020 Election.” I believe that Breitbart and Newsmax are good news sources, but you still have to verify.

CNN slanted toward those who want to believe that all conservatives are terrorists with its click bait headline of the same story, “They stormed the Capitol to overturn the results of an election they didn’t vote in.” Three headlines for one story that was originally written by CNN. Three differing takes. All three fit the narrative of the reader actually believing what he/she wanted to believe, but all three got “eyes.” You had to do some research to get to the truth, which was actually buried deep in the CNN story, reporting on only 8 people. How many memes, conspiracy reports, false narratives and lies do you think came out of those headlines, were embellished, and were passed on as a certain version of “truth”? As Christ said in Matthew 24:4, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” It takes work and responsibility to discern truth in a post-truth world.

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Bill Wilson