Romulus and Remus founded Rome. Aliens built the pyramids. Human beings are not the cause of global warming. Myths are part of the human experience. Their value lies in what they teach us about ourselves, not in their truth. Myths are not lies. They are deliberate untruths. They are narratives, stories with morals and lessons.
They were, that is, until recently. Modern myths are spun to sway voters on the right or the left. They are woven from lies and half-truths. The agenda of the modern myth teller is not to illuminate but obfuscate.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of modern myth telling. Have you noticed LinkedIn’s new feature, “endorsement”? Today I was notified of a new endorsement by someone I do not know. If I accept it, my profile looks stronger. And I am socially obligated to recognise the endorsement in some form. My experience begs the question, are LinkedIn data to be trusted?
The same question should be asked of data spewed forth by pollsters. Who answers honestly when called anonymously for a point of view. Study after study has shown that answers to income questions are seldom truthful. So prevalent is this “myth” making that survey specialists suggest that the income question never be asked.
If we cannot trust data, then we must not allow polls to influence critical decisions. We must look within not without, trusting in our own judgment, not the anonymous, lying masses.