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Fake News is the Hallmark of Human Civilization

  • Novels, painting and even music are about things that don't exist in nature.
  • We award prizes to writers who tell stories about events that never happened and about people who never existed.
  • We admire painters who distort nature, invent imaginary events or imagine real events in their own way.
  • We enjoy symphonies and sonatas that are sounds that never existed in nature.
  • In fact, we teach schoolchildren about these forgers, and present them as great minds.
  • We present their works, which are basically distortions of reality, as supreme achievements of the human mind.
  • We write lengthy celebratory histories of how narrative, visual and sonic forgery evolved over the centuries.
  • We abhor a society in which writers are only allowed to write the truth, painters are only allowed to paint the truth, and so on. All writers would write the same stories and all painters would paint the same paintings. In free societies they are instead encouraged to write and paint about imaginary things.
  • The human mind seems programmed to distort truth and to enjoy falsehood, and to reward as geniuses those who do it best
  • For thousands of years, it was legends and myths (technically, "fake news") that shaped social values and determined people’s behavior, that drove people's lives (e.g. to heroically die in battle or to respect the wisdom of the elders).
  • The whole history of religions is a history of fake news that spread amazingly rapidly.
  • Religions are fake news that is taught at home, taught in schools, recognized and protected by the state, and often even mandatory.
  • No matter how much information is available, information always comes with interpretation, and interpretation creates new legends and myths.
  • A narrative vacuum is impossible even in a society overloaded with information
  • There have always been three drivers of human civilization: Philosophy, Myths and Science. Philosophy gave us democracy, the Enlightenment, communism, etc. Science and technology gave us printing presses and steam engines, electricity and computers. Myths gave us the foundations of family and society. Philosophy is explicitly just an opinion, a meme that spreads. Science is explicitly demonstrable facts, inventions that spread. The power of myths is that they are opinions but present themselves not as opinions but as facts, powerful precisely because they cannot be demonstrated.
  • Fake news create the modern myths.
  • Fake news is the natural product of the human mind, and it is what the human mind values most.
  • It is also the one thing that sets humans apart from other species. As far as we can tell, no other species propagates and admires imaginary stories. One has to wonder at which point in time Homo Sapiens started this odd habit of making up stories and started enjoying them when made by others, the more credible the false story the more admired and propagated.
  • Human civilization accelerated dramatically over the last 10,000 years. Maybe the invention of art (i.e. of imaginary stories) was, indirectly, the driver of human progress, by opening the human mind to more possibilities than just the ones that the senses could find in the existing world.
  • Other animals live the same lives, generation after generation. Humans are the only ones who constantly strive for new ways to live. Maybe this is a skill that comes from their passion for imagining things that don't exist, i.e. for "fake news".