Edging towards Orwell

In our new normal, identity outranks and eclipses solid arguments, proven or provable facts are eviscerated and invalidated, alternative facts (lies) are manufactured, offered and consumed without question, and we have become perfectly happy to believe lies and base our lives on them.

Besides, we humans were never particularly good at reasoning for a good many reasons, one of which being that our reasoning is riddled with cognitive biases such as for example confirmation bias and logical fallacies such as ad hominem and tu quoque.

There are psychological and emotional factors too which influence the formulation of our decisions and views, whose sum total results in us being more likely to believe that which supports or reinforces our already established views, even when little or no evidence is given to support these views. Yet we are unlikely to accept whatever runs counter to our established views, even when the arguments are supported by indisputable evidence.

To compound matters, we have come to believe that we have the right to believe and act on whatever we want to, even if those beliefs are immediately provably untrue. This has been peddled as freedom, but freedom has nothing to do with licence to assume facts that tickle our ears and jettison those that are disagreeable to us.

Lies, seduction and hypocrisy are no newcomers to politics and the advent of the internet, particularly social media has transformed communication, giving disinformation and deception in politics added potency. A number of politicians have no problem in capitalising on this, being happy to manipulate people’s minds and hearts to their ends. Some take it to an extreme employing companies such as Cambridge Analytica who use illicitly acquired data (on us), modern science and technology to manipulate people’s minds and hearts.

These are some of the fundamental ingredients (of course there are many others) of the mess the world finds itself today, especially in situations where tribalism is present as a adds a further dynamic. In the USA, pro-Trump and anti-Trump. In the United Kingdom pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit (Remain or Leave).

Malta is no exception. People are either PN supporters or PL supporters, and if they utter a word against PN they must be PL supporters and if they utter a word against PL they must be PN supporters. Who is not for us is against us.

This is consuming our nation and consuming the world. And unless we understand this, and become vigilant on our thoughts and thought processes to ensure that our views and decisions are not based on disinformation, cognitive biases, logical fallacies and tribalism, we will continue moving in the direction of the modern version of an Orwellian world.