I don’t do many commentary posts, but this article really dug at me and it came on the heels of a response I had given somewhere about Mike Rowe. The commonality in both of these is that there is a line, and it’s not exactly a fine line, where information becomes inflammation.
To start with, the title is “50 lies you learn in school”. Before you’ve read anything, the article is implying that teachers, the people trained to educate you, are purposely lying to you. In order to lie, you have to know the truth. So the article is saying that your teachers know the truth and have intentionally told you otherwise.
If you go through this slide show, you will start with moments of, “Ok, I didn’t know that”, and “Huh, neat” but then, less than halfway through, you’re hit with “You can’t end sentences with prepositions.” Whether or not you agree or not, does this sound like a lie? By the definition, yes, it is a lie. However, that statement is not what is taught. You would be taught, “You should not end sentences with prepositions.” And that is not a lie, because it is not being presented as a fact or a rule, merely a guideline. The same thing with “You can’t begin sentences with conjunctions.” A style guide is just that, a guide.
The other type of tactic this article uses is on display with “The tongue map”. The slide says “The tongue map drawn back in 1901 is a lie.” And this is what REALLY pisses me off. It is not a lie when you do not know any better. The slide immediately says, “Scientists now know…” which means they were not intentionally hiding the truth back in 1901, they just had limited information at the time. This is repeated over and over with “facts” that had to be revised as more information became available. That does not make the original facts “lies”.
Another tactic is playing with words. “There’s no gravity in space” is clearly a lie. Why? Because the proper statement is “There is not a substantial amount of gravity in space.” The article proposes that not being explicit enough is a lie. Then the slide show starts to get into fringe medicine, such as “You need milk for strong bones” which cites as a reason some potential cronyism by an executive. There’s a couple of “facts/lies” I have never heard before in my life. “Blood is blue in the body”?
All in all, this is a terrible article, and let me now explain the Mike Rowe connection. There is a growing wave of anti-intellectualism here in America. It is dangerous as fuck and since about 2016, it’s been blowing up everywhere. It is the absolute proof that Idiocracy is coming to pass. It’s not enough that people are not taking the time to educate themselves, which is damaging enough, but now there is an active effort by some people to discredit other people who are intellectual.
Here’s the gist of how it works. You find some information that used to be considered factual, but because of additional study, is now considered wrong. And that former information is not labeled “obsolete”, but is instead touted as a “lie”. The argument is that the “smart people” lied to you all these years with that incorrect information. But the insane part of that argument is that it was the “smart people” who corrected the mistake.
The goal of this article and other examples of it (like Mike Rowe’s position on science) is to cause people to distrust information from learned sources. They want people to ignore “best practices” because they are not completely proven yet. Even if they are proven, what is proof? They want everyone to live in a “We just don’t know enough yet to make a decision” mindset. Conservative to to the point of regression.