How Do We Know What We Know?
by Butler Shafferby
Recently by Butler Shaffer:
Lest We Forget This is a talk given at the Mises Institute, on October 9, 2010, at a conference titled “Economic Recovery: Washington’s Big Lie.
” When I first offered this title for my talk, it was suggested that I add the question “how do we know when the state is lying?” I don’t know if this was an effort to limit my presentation to thirty seconds, for I could summarize my answer in the classic words of my favorite stand-up philosopher, George Carlin:
“my first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me.” Kurt Vonnegut offered similar advice. While traveling back to America at the end of World War II, Vonnegut asked a friend what he had learned from his wartime experiences: “never to believe anything my government tells me,” the friend answered. Because the state is grounded in such a network of lies, contradictions, deceptions, and conflicts, it is safe to say that political systems are inherently in conflict with reality, and must resort to intentional distortions of truth as a way of trying to appear coherent to a gullible public.
The “big lie,” as defended by Adolf Hitler, has long been a tool of statism. The more “colossal” the lie, Hitler intoned, the greater the propensity for Homo Boobus to believe it. Because human beings are accustomed to telling small lies, but would be embarrassed to tell outlandish ones, so Hitler reasoned, the great lie acquires credibility. For this reason, the lies that have been inseparable from truth surrounding 9/11, continue to be accepted by vast numbers of Americans. Likewise, the state-serving myth that global warming is the product of human activity, continues to be recited by politicians and other government officials, academics, and members of the media, despite the refutations offered by literally hundreds of highly-respected scientists who have refused being baptized into the secular religion of Algoreism.
With the surface temperatures of Mars increasing, while its polar ice is melting, I have heard none of the high-church environmentalists respond to my claim that this proves the existence of human-like beings – with their SUVs and aerosol sprays – on Mars! In so many ways are intelligent people reminded to be skeptical of consensus-based definitions of reality.