Stanley Dundee


Updated 2018-08-20. Originally published 2018-04-15.

It was Gimli the dwarf who broke in suddenly. The words of this wizard stand on their heads, he growled, gripping the handle of his axe. In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain...

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers, p. 184.

Pretty much every person speaking in an official capacity is pretty much lying pretty much all the time.

Bosses are lying on behalf of their bosses. Publicists are lying on behalf of their clients. Journalists are lying on behalf of their sources, editors, and publishers. Politicians are lying on behalf of their campaign contributors and future employers. Whenever someone is speaking for owners and rulers, they are most likely lying.

Oh, every once in a while, some truth will slip from their lips. Not by accident, but, rarely, interests will be served by using the truth. Doesn't happen very often.

I urge you to get into the practice of inverting official remarks. Taking an example from today's New York Times (2018-04-15), U.S. Says Strikes Took Out `Heart' of Assad Threat. That's an official statement, so it's most likely a lie. Maybe Assad didn't have a threat. Maybe the strikes failed to take out the `heart' of his genuine threat. Hard to say, but I would suggest that both of those statements are likely to be closer to the truth than the official line.

Along with inverting factual remarks and evaluating their negations as potentially more truthful, I also suggest a regular practice of reversing attribution. When an official source accuses some party of some wrongdoing, consider whether the official source is themselves (inadvertently) confessing to that wrongdoing. The reversal of attribution may well come closer to the truth than the official remark. So, also from today's Times, when Nikki Haley says, The pictures of dead children were not fake news. They were the result of the Syrian regime's barbaric inhumanity, you might ponder just who is perpetrating barbaric inhumanity in actuality. And per the inversion principle above, the pictures of dead children might well be fake news.

Update 2018-08-20: Caitlin Johnstone takes a similar approach in her recent piece on how to beat a manipulator:

There's someone [sic] in psychology called projection, and anyone who has done a good deal of inner work will tell you that it's a handy self-enquiry tool to see if what you hate in others, you can find in yourself... Manipulators particularly use projection as a tactic to hide what they're doing to you in plain sight. A manipulator can have you chasing your tail by simply suggesting that you or others are doing what you are seeing them doing with your own eyes... Here's the key: simply reverse the pronouns. When faced with a manipulator, everything he says about you, he is saying about himself, and everything he says about himself, is what he thinks of you. If he's telling you you're duplicitous and you're a liar and you're trying to take him for all he's got, he's actually saying he's duplicitous and he's a liar and he's trying to take you for all you've got. If you have good grounds to believe you are being manipulated by someone, reverse the pronouns in your mind and let them tell you who they are. It works from personal relationships right up to the grand manipulators employed by the plutocrats.

We are subject to a constant stream of distracting information in news, advertisement, and entertainment, most of which is lies. It's a toxic stream, and we're sickened by it: anxiety, fear, envy, hatred, and ignorance are the consequences. Limit your exposure as much as you can manage. Seek out sources that don't lie; if you pay attention over reasonably long periods, you can find non-official sources that mostly tell the truth. One good clue is whether they acknowledge when they are wrong.