Reality Wars: The Battles Over Truth and Reality

Recently, my wife and I attended a social gathering in Marin County, which as is well known is a hotbed of intense opposition to mandatory childhood vaccinations. One of the people with whom I spoke was not opposed to vaccinations, at least not in principle. Nonetheless, the person disagreed strongly with the idea that all children had to receive all of their vaccinations in a single session. When I asked why the person felt this way, I got an adamant response: “My own online research tells me that the idea is wrong!”

I wanted to ask, but didn’t, for it was apparent that it would only further inflame the situation, “And what medical school did you go to such that you are qualified to evaluate medical information?” Instead, I just walked away. End of story, and discussion!

Once upon a time, reality used to be nothing but all the hard stuff in the outside world that we bumped up against every day of our lives. And, truth was nothing more than all the true facts that were known about the external world. We don’t live in this simple world any more. Reality and truth are more complicated than ever.

In a word, Americans no longer inhabit the same realities, if we ever really did. The recent clashes over whether it’s necessary and safe to vaccinate one’s children and whether global warming is real are just two of the many on-going battles over what’s “real” and what’s “true.”

Increasingly, reality and truth are nothing more than what one believes and feels deeply about. And because we obviously don’t share the same beliefs and feelings about crucial events and issues, reality and truth are more personal and malleable than ever.

It’s not that facts don’t matter much any more, but —> Read More