"HAVE we really entered a post-truth world?" my nephew asked me the night before he left Mudjimba where he grew up to return to New York where, like my daughter and her husband, he now lives and works.
I responded, "what is truth?"
If 40 years in journalism has taught me anything, it is that whatever facts or substantiation you may present there are always those who won't accept what you have written, clinging stubbornly to what they want to be true rather than what actually is.
The second editor I worked for, the wonderful Peter Richardson, had a quiet word in my ear as I beamed at some positive response I had received to a very early column I wrote for the Sunshine Coast Newspaper Company.
Are you more likely to think a news report is fake if you don't agree with it?
This poll ended on 22 January 2017.
Yes. I'm well-informed and I can tell when someone's spinning rubbish
Maybe. I'm probably less rigorous in analysing information I agree with and overly critical of information I don't agree with.
No. I always look at where the information in the stories is sourced from and consider whether that's reliable. My personal beliefs don't enter into it.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"Those that agree will think you are a genius," he warned.
"Those who don't will label you an idiot."
The argument you put doesn't ultimately count for much.
That is unfortunately an inescapable truth.
Peter Richardson though was talking about a pre-online time when letters to the editors weren't accepted by newspapers for publication without the name and address of the person voicing an opinion.
You knew then who it was that was disagreeing with you or challenging the veracity of information you may have presented in a news story.
Are we now in an online age of post-truth or have we simply arrived at the end of logic, metaphorically burning books and denying the build-up of knowledge for the cold comfort of belief systems that, in our minds at least, keep the world as we want it.
It's an age where news organisations and journalists of record, whose names and mastheads stand behind what they produce, are vilified as the creators of "fake" news.
It's an accusation hurled by some on the basis of nothing more than an unwillingness to address the issue in favour of long-held prejudice or the inability to offer a logical response to support that prejudice.
It's an age when the opinions of pseudonyms find their way into circulation with the ultimate recipients ignorant to the intent and agendas of those who have posted them.
The fake news accusations of the Trump campaign would be laughable given the nonsense, half truths and twisted logic of the President- elect's utterances, but they are not.
The same language has rapidly spread to Australia and is being used by those representing all manner of interests to advance all manner of agendas, whether they be political or commercially motivated.
It's a tactic that requires no more than a dog whistle to people's prejudices.
It has quickly reduced the careful observations of thousands of scientists into an argument about what people "believed" rather than acceptance of what knowledge has revealed.
The messenger quickly became the target turning those who had taken the trouble and shown the diligence to get to the heart of our changing world into a conspiracy ring created to leech on government grants.
A common definition of racism is "a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another".
It is a definition clung to as defence by the xenophobic - those who show a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
"We're not racist," they are wont to exclaim as they rail against all Muslims.
"Islam is not a race."
Which is meant to somehow make the blanket vilification of others on the basis of their beliefs somehow okay.
We have seen in comments posted to this news organisation the quick adoption of the "fake news" accusations now being hurled by Trump and his followers.
Fake is where you find it and it can often be in the spurious claims of economic benefit to be brought by just squeezing another few floors and extra site coverage onto a parcel of land purchased at a value adjusted upward at the stroke of a local authority pen.
And it can be found in the lazy justification of planning scheme changes brought about within half the time it took to produce the document.
But that's not a "fake" you will hear hurled by the manipulated or the comfortable whose votes count equally with those who take the trouble to be fully informed.
No, in this new Trump-Hansonist age accusations of "fake" justify ignorance over diligence and shields those who seek power from the scrutiny they deserve.
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