Distinguishing Reality From Fantasy

In this information age where anything anyone knows can be known by anybody else nearly instantaneously it becomes increasingly difficult to cut through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and find the truth. When everyone has a bully pulpit, the truth often gets shouted down, lies being so much more alluring. It is common and popular to claim that artists and writers, when they espouse what are considered conservative viewpoints or opinions, are not qualified to speak on such topics. Just as it is popular to hear oracles from god when aging (and still bad) musicians and artists open their decaying yet still golden orifices and blather idiocies of the left. But, especially with novelists, art is appreciated by wide audiences when it contains within itself some truth. The greatest poems tell tales of moral import or truths with weight. The greatest art illuminates the human condition or the glories of created nature. The greatest novels are ingrained with truth, using fantastic premises to give greater clarity to common moral dilemmas. Cases in point are my favorite of mine, Orson Scott Card, and another famous author with several best-selling books to his name, Michael Crichton.

Michael Crichton has invited criticism recently with his stories involving environmental extremists play the part of the bad guys, committing acts of terrorism in the name of their ‘god’. In a speech before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco California, September 15th, 2003, he expounded on his fears concerning the future in our information age:

I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

We must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real problems, or non-problems. Every one of us has a sense of the world, and we all know that this sense is in part given to us by what other people and society tell us; in part generated by our emotional state, which we project outward; and in part by our genuine perceptions of reality. In short, our struggle to determine what is true is the struggle to decide which of our perceptions are genuine, and which are false because they are handed down, or sold to us, or generated by our own hopes and fears.

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