That was a really great ad campaign — “If you can’t trust …. who can you trust?” It evokes a relationship, a personal testimony, and an assurance of reliability all in just eight little words. Insert your mother, your father, your grocer, your barber, almost anyone. Both the logic and the emotion are perfect.
Marshall Shepherd wants us to ask about the relationship between weather reporting and public perceptions. The “hoopla” around the “bomb cyclone” help or harm the message?
Did #BombCyclone hoopla help or harm weather messaging? This week on a new @WXGeeksTWC on @weatherchannel …Dr. @kimklockow-mcclain of @NSSL-@OUCIMMS joins us to discuss weather messaging, communication and perception challenges and opportunities. Noon ET/11 CT Sunday #AMS2018 pic.twitter.com/OmR08ZVZy7
— Marshall Shepherd (@DrShepherd2013) January 6, 2018
This is a problem in weather forecasting — or should I say reporting. How do we get people’s attention? How do we get the message out there through all of the social media click-bait, sound-bites, and so forth.
We don’t live in a world of information overload. It’s not information that we get on Twitter and Facebook. We confuse factoids with information. There is no context for interpretation.Did Jack kill Jerry (hypothetical, of course)? Yes. Was it murder or was it self-defense? Was it in time of war? OR did it happen during surgery? The first question raises questions for some and a lot of questions for others. That’s the difference between an average person and a thinking person. The more you ask, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you might understand.
There are lines of trolls ready to argue or games to play Candy Crush. Or invitations to games that need to be sent. There are things to do on social media. But none of the factoids or games or other things amount to information. People spend hour after hour doing nothing. Then we wonder why the government treats the population with a herd-management mentality. We let them; nay, we encourage them.
We confuse factoids with information. Today’s political narratives reflect this. Collect one set of factoids and it looks like the Russians changed our election in direction A. Look at another set of factoids and it looks like the Russians changed our election in direction B. Another set seems to indicate that the Russian voice had no meaning effect at all. These narratives may or may not be sound arguments with respect to facts. And time will not tell.
It took decades before we found out that the Tonkin Gulf incident was a false flag, a blatant attempt to engage the US in a war that the government intended to lose, as indicated by the “Pentagon Papers” given to us by the N. Y. Times (not the Washington Post). And the Papers did not make Nixon the bad guy, but LBJ. Did you know these things? Probably not. The convention, the popular wisdom, is that Nixon was shown incompetent. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Narratives frame information and narratives manipulate entire populations. We could be sent to war with Guilder (The Princess Bride) and nobody would be the wiser. We are inundated with too much. Unlike the law in Max Headroom where an off switch is illegal we have become unaware of the need for an off switch. Nobody is woke who is unwilling to sleep.
Trust is, and always has been, a relational question. The practical question of how easily we give away our trust is the most serious question. The sexual revolution said trust is immaterial. Wear protection, get an abortion. Reduce your humanity to the feelings of the moment and live for today as John Lennon suggested. The idea of trust has been reduced to trusting the sexual prowess and non-abusiveness of the day’s sexual partner.
Of course people still get married. There is trust. There are stable relationships. Those are to be lauded, even lifted up, not as idols but as examples. Anyone can do it given the right set of decisions.
We are told to distrust based on race. A complaint from the wrong person is then branded white privilege. The bait that comes with it becomes troubling. Of course there is no “white genocide” — a “dog whistle” to certain groups. But when there is a discussion of race by leftists too often the conservative pops in with a negative response to the surface issue of race. Then we get the racism moniker attached when that’s not really the issue at all. Respond to assumptions (narratives) rather than the examples being used as bait.
Narratives which drive popular discussions also run deep in our community. Remember Bill Clinton’s infamous “what is means” gaff? We’ve spent so long talking about that statement as a question about moral relativism that we’ve forgotten the context. He was giving testimony and was responding to a question that used “is” multiple times, using different tenses. He was asking for clarification. But we have … lied. We attacked a real issue, moral relativism, with our own false flag, a misrepresentation of what a man said.
There are theological narratives in some fellowships. Have you ever heard that all amillennialists don’t like Israel? Or that all premillennialists take a low view of historical theology? How about the idea that all dispensationalists are pessimistic about what God can do in the world? Be wary of “all” language. It is as dangerous as “never” talk.
Sometimes we need to distrust even ourselves. We must ask ourselves serious questions and challenging about our fidelity to the truth. Perhaps it’s time we step back and re-evaluate what we believe and especially what we say. If a question is easy to answer perhaps we’re asking the wrong question.
It would be easy to become a pessimist here. I’m seriously tempted to disconnect, but only half-way. The WWW is too useful. But that smart phone, that’s an other question. In reality, though, it’s just a faster way to communicate our prejudices to the whole world. Twitter has become the democracy of the uninformed. (Not all, of course, but trolls are a fascinating group.) There are so many good people and organizations to follow but it’s too tempting to latch onto the ones who reinforce use. That’s where we all fall down.
The solution to trust is to understand the ones, and the One, whom you trust.