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    A man, who isn’t a “senior” was given a senior discount at the movie theatre. The next time he went to the theatre, he said to the ticket seller, “The last time I came to a movie here, you gave me a senior discount,” and he got it.  His wife admonished him, “You shouldn’t lie in front of the children.”  So, was his action subjectivity of the truth, or an “alternative fact?”

    The term “alternative fact” is attributed to Kellyanne Conway, U.S. Counsel to President Trump, but actually, the term was coined many years ago in 1949 by George Orwell, who wrote the novel 1984. The book is about a totalitarian state that creates its own language called, “Newspeak.” The purpose is to  stifle free thought by twisting the English language. For instance, the word, “Bad” becomes “Ungood.”

    Truthfully, there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.” There is fact and then there is fiction. A horse is a fact. A unicorn is fiction. If someone tells you that she saw a unicorn, she is either hallucinating, lying or has just attended a Disney movie. The problem with blurring the line between truth and lies is that you don’t know who you can trust. Groucho Marx said,”Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

    The story about the little boy who cried wolf illustrates that the little boy lied so many times that when the real wolf appeared, no one believed his warning. In a make believe world, “pigs can fly.”  However, when “fake news,” which is spun from a blanket of lies, enters the realm of the believable, it’s no longer a game of “let’s pretend,” and it can become very dangerous.

    Reputable journalists are required to get the facts straight. As a former journalist and contributing writer to two magazines, I know that accuracy is so important that even if you misspell someone’s name, you land in deep doo doo.

    In the good old days, a person’s word was his bond, and contracts were made with a simple handshake. Today, a person is leery of “shaking on it,” because he might not get his hand back.

    In the Japanese film,  Rashomon (1950) various characters provide alternative , self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident, which in part exhibits the unreliability of human memory or how it can be manipulated. Sophisticated proponents of propaganda know that if a lie is repeated over and over, it will eventually be accepted, by many, as the truth.

    When dealing with a liar, it is always good to listen to what he does not say rather than what he does, because lies always spin a web of deceit and depend on recollection.  Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

    The children’s game, Telephone has no winner. It is a game where a group of people sit in a circle and the first person whispers a secret into the ear of the person sitting next to her, and then the secret is whispered on from one person to another. The last person is charged to reveal the secret which is always different than the original secret. It demonstrates the inaccuracy of rumors as they are spread. For instance, the secret might be “I wrote a verse about my cat,” and it could end up, “Someone proved that the earth is flat.”  Everyone might laugh except the one person in the group, who might like the lie so much, that he puts it on Facebook, and some people will believe his “alternative fact” that the earth is indeed flat.

    If we are lucky, these simpletons will sail toward the horizon and fall off the edge of the earth—unless they are lucky enough to hail a flying pig.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Liar, liar, your pants are on fire, and your nose is as long as a telephone wire.)

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