I think we are living in very interesting and difficult times in terms of credibility.
While knowing that being credible is at the heart of achieving what we set out to do in our lives, we are daily faced with a barrage of information that is very difficult to find credible. This has likely always been true in advertising and especially in the movies where we are asked to suspend credibility for a few moments of entertainment. Even in books of fiction we can entertain ourselves with things that cannot possibly be true—and that is OK, we revel in fantasies of all kinds. Likewise, books of non-fiction are so often filled with nothing but fiction—that we generally don’t like so much.
It has gotten to the point where one almost has to run information by “Snopes,” before one goes much further, but then who do we run Snopes by?
With photoshop at everyone’s fingertips, photographs can easily be manipulated to manipulate the viewer.
The Internet has exacerbated this problem to incredible proportions—no pun intended (but a good one nonetheless). One only has to click on any one of the videos in the continuous stream of videos shared on one’s Facebook feed to see examples of preposterous impossible feats being accomplished.
A recent example of such a video was of a free, breath-hold, 665 foot dive into a water pit that was supposedly effortlessly done in less than 4.17 minutes. Besides that being a pretty decent time to hold ones breath, is the fact that the only two divers to ever go below 500 feet suffered health effects that affected them for years. It turns out that the video is just plain not credible—and as it turns out, a publicity stunt.
Another famous video clip was of a squirrel juggling a nut like a soccer ball. It was actually an add, so no one should actually “believe” that a squirrel could do such a thing anyway. But the squirrel does LOOK believable, and I know people that actually think it was real—that it was an actual trained squirrel!
When do we cross the line as to what is credible and what is incredible and what is not-credible?
More and more, we must be vigilant in terms of what we swallow hook, line, and sinker.
We have to find alternative ways of biting the gold coin to see if it is the real McCoy.
Trust but verify.
It has almost gotten to the point where it is safer to assume that something is not credible and work toward finding its credibility.
It will be interesting to see how future generations sort this all out. Of course there is no shortage of lies that have been spewed, believed, and carried forward from the times before computers, Snopes and the internet.
It is almost as if we have to be incredibly lucky to not be gullible—to not be conned. Then again perhaps we enjoy and need some amount of conning in our lives—some amount of believing the make-believe.
However, I do think there is great danger when things are purported to be fact when in fact they are not fact at all. This travesty is exemplified in the decline of pure scientific research—research for research’s sake. It seems that more and more, research is performed and funded by special interest groups with an interest in the outcome of said research. This kind of research is akin to videos of diving to impossible depths and juggling squirrels. It becomes non-credible.
I hope after all of this, you don’t think I have an answer for you—because I certainly do not. While my having an answer might be credible—or even incredible—it is just not credible given the amount I actually know about it.
There is another key element of credibility. To maintain ones credibility, one most always be willing to give up allegiances to things held credible that are found to not be credible with the passage of time.
This is just a rambling way of saying that it might be useful to admit when we have been conned (at least to ourselves) and then move on.
By Charles Buell