George Bernard Shaw said: “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”
Given the day and age in which we live, we have innumerable ways to inform ourselves. Among basic television news, cable news, internet news, blogs, newspapers and books, we have the power to stay as informed as we want to be. The problem lies in the integrity of the source we choose. Despite the plethora of options in front of us, many of them are less than accurate. This contributes to a growing culture of unknowing ignorance.
Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are extremely popular shows, especially among teenagers and college-age people. I have many friends who watch both shows and consider them their source of political news. Unfortunately, a satirical news show isn’t always going to be interested in the pursuit of truth.
According to Breitbart, Stephen Colbert recently made a dig at President Ronald Reagan, saying that Reagan didn’t do anything about Sadaam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons in the 1980’s.
Colbert: “That’s why we know, we conservatives know that the Gipper would never stand for the use of chemical weapons… today. Of course in the 1980’s his administration ignored chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein that killed thousands of Iranian troops and looked the other way when Saddam gassed his own Kurdish citizens.”
However, according to Newsbusters, that is not at all the case.
Reagan: “Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished delegates, the terror of it. The horror of it. We condemn it. The use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war – beyond its tragic human toll – jeopardizes the moral and legal strictures that have held these weapons in check since World War I. Let this tragedy spark reaffirmation of the Geneva protocol outlawing the use of chemical weapons.”
This historical lie on the part of Colbert may not seem like a big deal, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With so many young people taking what they see on these shows as gospel, this lie will become their truth. From now on, they will believe that Reagan did nothing, when the opposite is true. This belief will set these young people against Reagan. They will believe him to be callous and foolish. In turn, they will view Conservatism through the same lens.
It’s a subtle effect, but one that is certain. A small lie grows larger the longer it goes un-refuted. Ignorance can be filled, but false knowledge is worse than ignorance, because so long as someone thinks they know the truth, they will fight tooth and nail against reality.