Finding and sharing truth and lies: which of these 4 types are you?

Johannes Ernst


Consider this diagram:

Trying to find: truth Crook Scientist
lies Demagogue Debunker
Sharing: lies truth

If I try to find the truth, but lie about what I’m telling others, I’m a crook.

If I try to find lies that “work” and tell them to others, I’m a demagogue.

If I try to find lies to expose them and share the truth, I’m a debunker of lies.

And if I try to find the truth, and share it, that makes me a scientist.

If so, we can now describe each one of those categories in more detail, and understand the specific behaviors they necessarily need to engage in.

For example, the scientist will welcome and produce copious objective evidence. The demagogue, likely, will provide far less evidence, and if so, point to other people and their statements as their evidence. Those other people are likely either other demagogues or just crooks.

If we could annotate people on-line with these four categories, we could even run a PageRank-style algorithm on it to figure out which is which. Why aren’t we doing this? Might this interfere with attention as the primary driver of revenue for “free” on-line services?

P.S. Sorry for the click bait headline. It just lent itself so very well…