Suppose you lived in a country that guaranteed freedom of speech, but 90% of everything spoken or written was deliberately misleading, and you didn’t have any reliable way to know which statements were accurate. In an environment in which people are buried in bullshit, would freedom of speech have any practical value?
Now suppose that the biggest lie in this hypothetical land of free speech is the notion that you, and your fellow citizens, are skilled at sorting lies from truth. You readily believe in your own truth-sniffing abilities, but you’re skeptical about the abilities of your fellow citizens. After all, they so often come to the wrong conclusions, according to you. Would freedom of speech have any real value in such a world?
What I’m describing is an absurd situation. In that hypothetical world, 90% of what you heard would be out of context, intentionally misleading, or outright lies. And while you had no special ability to sort the truth from the lies, you’d believe you did. And you’d be darned glad you lived in a country with freedom of speech so you had lots of truth to enjoy.
Thank goodness for confirmation bias. I’m mildly dyslexic, and the New York Times just reported that dyslexia is a sort of perceptual super power. I assume my dyslexia super power allows me to detect truth in ways that regular mortals cannot. Apparently we dyslexics can detect patterns better than people who are tragically normal. I know this is true because I have excellent powers of perception. And I know I have excellent powers of perception because I’m always right. And I know my logic makes sense because it forms a perfect circle. I’m just not so sure about you.