How does something become true? If I make a statement, like my bathrobe is green, or I prefer my eggs over easy, are they true, false, or neither? If neither, do they ever change to a true or false statement? In the case of my bathrobe, it will settle on either true or false as soon as you see it. In the case of the eggs, though, it’s less clear. I might be lying. But if I’m committed to my lie, to the point where I only eat my eggs over easy and never have them any other way, does that change it from being a lie to being true?
We live in a world where there is a lot of disagreement over what’s true. We agree on the very basic facts. 2 + 2 still equals 4. But there is so much we disagree on. Remember Eric Garner? He was a man the police killed when they were trying to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes. There was video. No police was even charged for his death. Show that video to a civilian and many people would say it’s clear that the police murdered him. Show that exact same video to a police officer and she will say that the police did nothing wrong. It’s the same video. But the truth people draw from it is entirely opposite. It’s worth exploring what makes something true or false.
The most important thing that makes something true is repetition. If I say something that you know to be false, then I repeat it again and again, and you hear it repeated from more sources again and again, you’ll begin to believe it. It’s hard to believe that such a simple technique could be effective, but it can be one of the most effective techniques we have. Right now we’re hearing that Trump is incompetent. It’s reinforced again and again from multiple outlets. I have no idea if Trump is competent or not. But it’s becoming true. In the case of my preference for eggs, it’s entirely possible that when I first answered the question I was lying. I actually prefer my eggs scrambled. But, in order to avoid being branded a liar, I kept having my eggs over easy. After enough time, the lie becomes true.
If you are told that police are untrustworthy and dangerous often enough, you believe it. Then when you are presented with ambiguous evidence, you will side against them. Likewise, if you are told constantly that the police are just there to help and would only hurt someone if they had no other choice, then you will look at the same evidence and state that there was no other possible resolution to the situation other than violence.
Truth is repetition. If the basic facts are ever in question, then we will believe whatever has been emphasized the most times. You might not believe this. But reread this piece a few dozen times, and it will become true.