“News” today is already little more than propaganda for the State. But that isn’t enough for Obama. He wants wants a system in place to filter our information that isn’t propagandistic:
Pittsburgh (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Thursday decried America’s “wild, wild west” media environment for allowing conspiracy theorists a broad platform and destroying a common basis for debate.
Recalling past days when three television channels delivered fact-based news that most people trusted, Obama said democracy require citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions.
“We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to,” Obama said at an innovation conference in Pittsburgh.
“There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world,” Obama added.
What is true? If we’re talking about mathematical formulas or physics we can establish truth through logical deduction and the scientific method. But judging complex human interactions and philosophies as either true or false is a different beast.
Let’s take the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an example. If I say the ACA has been a success would you believe my statement is true or false? It really depends on what you define as success. Supporters of the ACA will often look at the total number of people insured declare the ACA a success because the number is higher now than before the law was passed. Others will look at the rate health insurance premiums have increased and declare the ACA a failure because premiums today are higher than they were before the ACA was passed.
How do we determine “truthiness” (what a stupid word) when discussing things like whether or not a government program has succeeded? According to the government its programs are almost always successful. It will demonstrate success by pointing at various statistics it has chosen as being important. But other people will question the importance of those statistics. Going back to our example, is the total number of people who are covered by health insurance really an important number? There are arguments both for and against relying on that number to determine success. But which arguments are true and which are false?
Like so much in life, truth often boils down to personal philosophy. As a libertarian I believe the initiation of force is always wrong. Since the State’s existence is entirely reliant on initiating force I believe the State to be immoral. A utilitarian will likely disagree with me. They will likely find the State moral because it is the most utilitarian way to accomplish certain tasks. I will disagree with that and we’ll go back and forth because our ideas of morality are different.
The idea that we can create a system that can determine whether questions like our example are true is laughable because such a system will inevitably be colored by the personal beliefs of the designer.