About Less-traveled Roads
How much do I value the truth? And how readily am I my willing to share it? These were the questions I asked myself last year as social media battles raged. Facebook fights and Twitter wars increasingly spilled over into everyday life, driven largely by differing opinions on masks, vaccines, and lockdowns. The result? Strained friendships, broken relationships, and the severing of many bonds that hold society together.
How did we get here? The short answer is that we no longer value the truth. People often speak more of “my” truth and “your” truth, leading us to conflate what is objectively true with personal opinions and beliefs. Such confusion of opinions with truth has led many people to automatically trust the pronouncements of government officials and corporate media without carefully considering the evidence. Combine this tendency to unquestioningly believe state-approved experts and corporate media personalities with the desire to be thought well of by others—to fit in with our friends and family who also believe these experts—and many people begin to accept narratives that offer incomplete or inaccurate explanations for what’s happening in our world. The end result is that people are actually living in two different realities: the Real World and the Narrative World.
In the Narrative World, people often accept as true the positions of government agencies, corporate media outlets, and public health officials without examining the evidence for themselves. I used to live in this world, so I can empathize with those who still do. Many people living in the Narrative World understandably want to give deference to public health officials, as they are often driven by a desire to humbly care for those around them. They faithfully watch the evening news or read their preferred media sites, wanting to be informed and to know what is true. And they trust government agencies because they believe those employed by these entities are working in the interests of the general public. Again, I lived in this world for most of my life, but during my time in law school I began to see that much of what I believed rested on wrong assumptions and faulty premises. I automatically accepted the official positions of government agencies, but I failed to realize that many who work for these agencies—especially those who lead these agencies—also worked for the corporations they regulate. I also sought to trust the experts, especially public health officials, but I did not understand how biased such officials could be or how they could be influenced by many conflicts of interest. And I regularly and diligently consumed news from what I considered to be reliable sources, but I did not realize these outlets were often substituting opinions for facts and, at least in some cases, deliberately withholding important context.
It was not just my faulty assumptions that held me in the Narrative World. The Narrative World also draws people in by appealing to some our most intense emotions, particularly fear and anger. And when we become afraid of various threats to our safety (e.g., a virus, terrorism, etc.), or angry about injustice in our world (e.g., racism, shootings, etc.), our ability to think critically and to carefully evaluate evidence is stunted, if not completely lost. I have personally experienced such fear and anger, and I know the mental paralysis that can result. Add to such anger and fear the deep human desire to be accepted by others (and the corresponding fear of being rejected), and it’s no wonder many people would willingly choose not to think—and so remain in the Narrative World.
In contrast to the Narrative World, the Real World is exactly that: the real world. In this world, reality governs. Facts matter. Evidence drives our decisions. And truth is valued regardless of one’s opinion.
In the Real World, people of all political persuasions understand that truth is a prerequisite for justice. Guilt or innocence should only be determined after a careful review of the facts. And public health policies should be implemented not on the basis of ideological assumptions or predetermined conclusions but after examining all the relevant data.
I have gradually been awakened and am striving to live in the Real World, convinced that living in light of the truth is the best way to genuinely care for others. Put differently, telling the truth is the only way to truly love our neighbors, as allowing our neighbors to continue believing what is false—to continue to live by lies—is not loving at all. Telling the truth (and even believing the truth) is not always easy; in fact, I may desperately want something NOT to be true and may even be tempted to ignore what is true because it does not sit well with me—because it does not align with what I want to believe. But truth is truth whether I believe it or not. Consequently, I should be willing to follow evidence wherever it leads, even if it conflicts with my own preunderstanding of what I think is true or what I want to be true.
Follow the Evidence. Find the Truth.
Because I was trapped in the Narrative World for much of my life, I desire to help others think critically and carefully so they are better able to live in the Real World. And because I remember the intense fear and misplaced anger I felt when living in the Narrative World, I desire to write in a way that is patient, tactful, understanding, and gracious. Less-traveled Roads is now the home of all of my posts and articles and will serve as an ongoing effort to help others discover what is true about a variety of issues, especially when the truth is either hard to find or deliberately hidden. I will always aim to present as much evidence and data as possible to enable my readers to do their own research, as I have zero desire to simply tell people what to think. Instead, I sincerely want to help others learn how to think and to follow the evidence wherever it leads, believing that if we are actually willing to follow the evidence, we will eventually find the truth.
A Few Disclaimers
(1) Human beings are not very good at handling facts and evidence, as we often cannot see past our own biases and preunderstandings. I am no exception, and I know that I am incapable of being completely unbiased. I am also very aware of my own limitations. I’m not an expert in everything (really not many things), but I care deeply about the truth, and I desire to follow the evidence regardless where it leads. I will follow the evidence imperfectly, and I will make mistakes. But my sincere desire is to admit when I am wrong and to humbly admit when others are right.
(2) Taking these less-traveled roads and speaking honestly about difficult and controversial topics has resulted in many false accusations, including claims that I am “endorsing police brutality,” peddling “conspiracy theories,” and supporting white supremacy. Those who read or share my content may be accused of the same or worse.
(3) To answer the questions posed at the beginning, I want to value the truth above all else because I am a follower of the One whose Word is Truth and who Himself claims to be the Truth. My identity as a Christian, combined with more conservative or libertarian political leanings, could lead some to conclude that I’m unwilling to truly listen to those with different views. Indeed, I have recently been called a “narrow-minded conservative evangelical” and a “MAGA hat wearing ‘muh freedoms’ keyboard warrior,” among other things. Such assumptions are understandable, but I believe those who read my posts will find these assumptions to be untrue. To the contrary, I will regularly link to articles by others with whom I disagree on political or moral issues because they are also willing to go down less-traveled roads in order to find the truth. Glenn Greenwald, Bari Weiss, and Alex Berenson are just a few examples of real journalists who are striving to report the truth, even when that truth is unpopular or conflicts with the Narrative World. Like these individuals who have lost much for standing against lies, I also desire to report the truth no matter the cost.
(4) I write with the strong conviction that humans are capable of great evil. Murder, rape, human trafficking, child abuse—the harms inflicted by human beings are too many to count. And when humans are placed in positions of power, their capacity for evil, as well as their ability to harm others, often grows exponentially. Mass deception, concentration camps, slavery, genocide—history is filled with countless examples of unspeakable atrocities. We must never forget the nearly limitless evils that humans have committed, and we must never be so foolish to think that such evils are consigned to the past or that “they can’t happen here.”
(5) Finally, LIES. What has enabled so many of the monstrous evils committed throughout the ages? What helped sustain the genocides of the 20th century? What perpetuates the oppression, injustice, and abuse that continues to this day? Lies. Deceit. Propaganda. One of the biggest lies that made these great evils possible is that certain human beings are somehow less than others and that some humans are better than others (and thus more deserving of life and liberty). Such lies eventually result in the dehumanization of certain groups, which in the end can lead to brutal totalitarianism and the destruction of other humans who are made in the image of God.
But it’s not just governments and others in positions of power who use lies to further their evil agendas. How do human traffickers seduce and capture their victims? With lies. How do corporations conceal defects in their products that result in injury and death? By lies. How do cheating spouses hide their unfaithfulness? Through LIES. The suppression of truth and the dissemination of lies have made possible much of the suffering and death that has plagued humanity for millennia. Consequently, one of my main goals in writing is to expose the lies that permeate society so that we can be freed from the tyranny of deceit that has taken so many captive. And my sincere hope and earnest prayer is that living in light of the truth—and helping others to do the same—will forestall some of the worst evils that might otherwise take place.
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