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Posverdad (emotive lie): definition and examples

Posverdad (emotive lie): definition and examples

June 23, 2022

In the myth of Plato's cave, the famous Greek philosopher argued that truth is independent of our opinions. It will always be there even if no one believes in it. It is a very idealistic vision of what exists.

However, this powerful idea also has a dark side: the lie can also subsist and monopolize all the attention because, although it does not faithfully describe reality, it does not need it; it simply "works" in our heads. It allows us to build a story about our lives. That's why he survives.

A few months ago the Oxford Dictionary pointed out that the word of the year 2016 had been post-truth, which in Spanish is something like post-truth . This concept indicates that between the truth and the lie there is a turbid waters territory that escapes those two definitions.


What is post-truth?

Postverity has been defined as a cultural and historical context in which the empirical testing and the search for objectivity are less relevant than the belief in itself and the emotions it generates when creating public opinion currents.

Basically, the word serves to indicate a tendency in the creation of arguments and discourses that is characterized by starting from the assumption that objectivity matters much less that the way in which what is affirmed fits with the belief system that we feel and that makes us feel good.

Postverity supposes a blurring of the border between truth and lies, and creates a third category different from the previous two. One in which a fact, fictitious or not, is accepted in advance for the simple fact of fitting in with our mental schemes.


The alternative facts

The popularization of post-truth has been joined by the concept of alternative facts, which in Castilian are translated as "alternative facts". Lies, come on. But with one nuance: the alternative facts, unlike the lies in general, they have behind them a powerful media and propaganda device that supports them and that they will do everything possible to make these falsehoods seem to explain the reality or, at least, that they do not seem like lies.

At the end of the day, for something to be an alternative fact, it needs something that gives it momentum and that allows it to generate a parallel discourse to reality without sticking it up. Otherwise, it would not be the alternative of anything.

The alternative facts are, before being baptized as such by the head of Trump's electoral campaign when she was reproached for having used false information, the raw material of post-truth. Or, seen in another way, the elements whose existence have forced someone to create the concept of post-truth and use it in political science and sociology.


Some examples of post-truth

As clear examples of the influence of the post-truth culture we could mention the fact that led to the first use of the concept "alternative facts" in a professional policy context. Kellyanne Conway, the aforementioned head of the Donald Trump campaign, justified the barriers placed on citizens from countries of Muslim tradition who want to enter the US by noting that two Iraqi refugees they had been involved in the killing of Bowling Green . The killing of Bowling Green has not existed.

Another simple example of post truth is the statements of Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, claiming that the mass media had deliberately concealed the massive attendance of citizens with which Trump's presidential inauguration counted; according to him, the inauguration with the largest audience in the world.

But, of course, alternative facts have not been born with Trump; they are a constant in politics. Here we could mention, for example, the statements made by the Spanish government that pensions are guaranteed when the indicators that cross demographics with socioeconomic data show the opposite. If it fits into a discourse that arouses strong emotions because it represents us, it is valid, whether it is true or not.

  • Related article: "90 phrases of Donald Trump that gave a lot to talk (controversial and sexist)"

Cognitive dissonances

In reality, what the term after-truth refers to more or less has been known for some years in psychology; the intellectual sacrifices that we accept in order to keep standing a belief system that has taken root in our identity . A phenomenon noted, for example, by social psychologist Leon Festinguer.

The cognitive dissonance of which Festinguer spoke is that state of tension and internal conflict that we notice when reality collides with our beliefs. When it occurs, we try to resolve the situation by readjusting the fit between that belief system and the information that comes from the outside; many times, we choose to manipulate reality to keep the first thing as it is.

The afterlife as an opportunity

But not all aspects of the post-truth are formulated in negative, as something that destroys the way of seeing things that characterized us before. There is also a positive aspect of post truth; not because it is morally good, but because it leads to building something new, instead of undoing what is already there.

And what does post-truth contribute? The possibility of creating a context in which the truth and the testing and presentation of evidence is valued so little that can live all kinds of lies and ideas without feet or head . Since climate change is a myth until homosexuality is unnatural, going through all kinds of inventions about distant countries to create an excuse to invade them.

This tendency to renounce intellectual honesty for one's own good has in the "alternative facts" a name that allows it to legitimize itself.

In the world of post-truth literally any idea can give way to a valid discourse on what happens in reality, as long as the speakers through which it is transmitted are powerful enough. Knowing if it is true or not, is over.


Alternative Math | Short Film (June 2022).


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