As a people, we get wrapped up in our everyday lives and sometimes forget to investigate the extraneous information to which we are exposed. It is easy just to watch the evening news and take their words as the honest truth, especially if it confirms our personal beliefs. Confirmation bias does play a vital role in the inherent ignorance that permeates from the pores of the social structure. Modern day humans have access to more information than at any other time in history, and yes, many of it is false. The truth, however, is hidden under layers of a fabricated existence, and it can be found. We should question everyone, and everything, no one is infallible or without an inherent bias.
In society, we seem to segregate ourselves into groups of those in the know, and those kept in the dark. Society is so compartmentalized though that no one knows the whole story. You can see this in the micro, at the local level. Organizations such as city councils meet and discuss projects and budgetary matters, and while many of these meetings appear open, those people have always met first behind closed doors and presented it in a more finite detail than the public will receive. People feel privileged by being able to keep something from others; it makes them feel unique and essential. They go into these discussions having already decided the issue; the resulting show is mostly pomp and circumstance with no significance other than to make people feel included. Transparency in most cases is itself a deception.
Experts on everything from interior design to foreign policy are continually bombarding the public with their opinions. Experts have their worldviews and will tend to color their commentary to fit within that mold, so just because someone has been anointed such doesn’t mean we should always believe them. The society also tends to believe in something just because a majority do. If you recall a bit of history, you might remember seeing the old world maps before it had been fully explored with the comical drawings in unexplored areas depicting dragons and other monstrous creatures patiently waiting to devour approaching ships. The majority did imagine wonders and horrors that their minds couldn’t fully comprehend beyond the confines of their small worlds. Intrepid individuals though discounted this antiquated notion and set out on voyages of discovery. They didn’t discover dragons, but they did acquire wealth and prestige for themselves and their host nations as well as drawing a much less amusing map of the world.
I would like to use the first Gulf War as an example of people believing authority figures while being deceived by them. Saddam had intimated his desire to invade Kuwait to U.S Ambassador April Glaspie. He asked what her feelings were and this is an excerpt from her response, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.’Walt, Stephen M. “WikiLeaks, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 8 Jan. 2011, foreignpolicy.com/2011/01/09/wikileaks-april-glaspie-and-saddam-hussein/.Furthermore, I’m sure everyone remembers the tearful testimony of the Kuwaiti girl before Congress describing how Iraqi soldiers entered a hospital and removed the babies from the incubators and left them on the cold floor to die. This was designed to sway the American public’s opinion on intervention, and it worked. The girl, in fact, turned out to be the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United State’s daughter. Hill and Knowlton was a PR firm that was hired to drum up support for the war, and they coached this girl’s testimony. The babies thrown from the incubators was a complete fabrication. Kuwait’s investigators later determined the falseness of these claims.“Deception on Capitol Hill.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Jan. 1992, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/15/opinion/deception-on-capitol-hill.html.
I hope that this reveals why mindlessly heeding authority and believing what you are told can lead to significant destruction and detrimentally affect all aspects of our existence. It is crucial that we hold people with an obligation to the truth to a higher standard. We shouldn’t allow these people to get away with willfully deceiving the populace so that they might increase the size of their bank accounts. The information I shared here is only the tip of the iceberg, much more truth is out there for us to discover. A better world starts with you and me, and we cannot hope to live in a peaceful world if we allow our leaders to deceive. We are smarter than this, and they count on us being imbecilic amoebas. They expect they can throw a bone and watch us animals fight over it while they feast in great halls. Let us show them that we are smarter and more morally proficient than they are and start punishing dishonesty in our society.