Back in the era of the great game shows, the 1950s – 1970s, one popular form challenged the panel of celebrity guests to sort liars from truth-tellers: What’s My Line, I’ve Got a Secret, and my favorite, To Tell the Truth. In that one the panel had to determine who out of three people were, what? Say it with me now, “telling the truth”.
Truth: in short supply. Truth: undervalued. Truth: not spoken by oh-so-many politicians in the last few years. The soon to be prisoner-in-chief, for example, told an average of 21 lies a day. If you become nostalgic for his lies over the next few months you can doom-scroll the collection of lies fact-checked by WaPo, complete with how many times that lie was told.
Truth: we need some. Truth: we need to be able to identify it when we see it. Truth: we must value it once more. We’ve heard so many lies over the past five years (and I know, the lying goes back further, but I’m trying to focus here) we have a hard time sorting through to get to the truth. Looking to sources, fact checking, critical thinking, fell to the constant barrage of lies. We’re weary. Like the end of the game show era, we’re tired of playing this game.
In the next few years, I predict you’ll see a great deal about The Big Lie: a lie so colossally huge that it is believed because it is unbelievable that someone would tell that lie. The Big Lie(s) of the past few years will be analyzed, and a lot of words will be written by both journalists and scholars. The analysis will be valuable but only if it helps us to identify the Next Big Lie.
And it is coming, that Next Big Lie. The Next Big Lie is already being formulated. The people who will believe the Next Big Lie are already with us. It will be our job to identify who, in this game, will tell the truth.
Stay tuned for the next episode of the most important game show you’ll ever play: The Next Big Lie.