A few weeks ago, I had to have my car serviced.
The whole thing took less than 90 minutes. Painless, right? But, in fact, I spent the whole time squirming because Fox News was playing in the waiting room.
“Where do they get this stuff?” I kept thinking to myself. “Can they possibly be serious?”
While it’s easy to explain the dissonance as “a difference of opinion,” a new book by Farhad Manjoo asserts that it’s also a “difference of fact.”
In “True Enough,” Manjoo argues, credibly, we often decide what’s true or not based on our existing beliefs, not on an absolute reality. And we often reinforce those beliefs, repeatedly, through our selective exposure to media—and people—that support our views.
It all becomes an unvirtuous circle. And pretty soon, we no longer judge the credibility (or dubiousness) of facts based on their merit. Instead, we begin to judge them by their source, even when we don’t realize it.
Among the book’s examples is a behind-the-scenes retelling of how the Swift Boat Veterans turned their version of the truth into a widely accepted fact during the 2004 presidential election.
Manjoo’s book is a compelling read for all communicators with a cause to promote—or to defend. (Even if that’s just in your car dealer’s waiting room.) You can download a sample chapter here. And read more of Farhad’s writing at his blog on Salon.com.