Undermining truth is easy. What makes it easy is that people like to think truth is rock solid.
Facts Are Facts Until One Interprets Them
For instance, I’m often told, “But Mike, the facts are the facts. You can’t change them.”
I respond, “You’re right. It’s not the facts I’m considering. It’s how people interpret them. You can change that.” In this sense, facts are very much like tea leaves. People will see what they want to see in them.
For instance, one can interpret a sunny day as God’s light shining on her. In the same sense, a rainy day could be God’s tears of joy. In short, a fact is just that . . . a fact. A fact has no value until someone interprets it, answers, “So what?”
Two Crucial First Steps in Undermining Truth
Therefore, when it comes to undermining truth, it’s a selling effort. As such, it has two crucial first steps. First, put a good face on the effort. Second, come up with a great story.
1. Find A Good Face
The first is crucial because people are far more likely to believe someone they like than the truth. This holds true even if the likeable one contradicts the truth.
While the person can be charismatic and personable, it’s more important that he conveys confidence, authority and power. These seduce people quite easily. It triggers their need for security and certainty in an uncertain world.
2. Create A Great Story
A great story is crucial because stories move people far more than raw facts do. Just look at advertising. Do soft drinks advertise by listing their ingredients? No, they offer a story that conveys an emotion. Experts call this “branding.”
To undermine truth then, a great story must do two things. It must trigger and surface emotional needs. Second, it must address the emotions and solve the needs. The focus is on the first. Solutions only need to appear realistic. Here’s why:
- People don’t like things . . . because they are true.
- Things are true . . . because people like them.
In short, as long as people like the story, they will believe it’s realistic, it’s true. In short, the story creates another truth. This fills the vacuum created by undermining truth. Something must fill the vacuum or it will suck the truth back in.
The Truth On Undermining Truth
No doubt, undermining truth has other steps. Yet, these are the first steps. Without a good face and story, undermining truth is very difficult. And, that’s the truth.