Counselling Resource

Psychology, Philosophy & Real Life

Dr George Simon, PhD

Truth in the Age of Spin

The bottom line is that spin is a form of lying. Does anyone out there really care anymore?

Photo by chefranden - //
Photo by chefranden -

We are told that when Jesus of Nazareth was on trial for his life, he claimed that those who really knew of his life, works, and preaching were witnesses to the truth of who he was. Pontius Pilate was said to have responded with the now famous question: “What is Truth?” While there has always been some validity to the notion that the absolute truth is unknowable due to the perceptual bias each one of us brings to our understanding of things (making all truth “relative”), it appears that in these days of incessant “spin,” the truth eludes us more than ever.

There was a time when “spin” was reserved for those occasions when folks with an image to protect were caught in potentially embarrassing, career-threatening, or integrity-destroying situations and tried to cover their behinds by putting the best possible face on a bad situation. But now, spin is everywhere. From advertisements on TV and radio, to political campaigns, to corporate board reports to investors, to even news reports, you’re hard-pressed to discover the “real” truth underneath all the deliberately distorted packaging of the message.

In my new book, Character Disturbance [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK], set for wide release at the end of this month, I make the point that disregard for the truth is one of the hallmark features of the unhealthy character. For some disturbed characters, truth is only what they say it is. Other disturbed characters know the truth well but simply choose to disregard it, placing themselves above it. Still others are at all out war with the truth because they see the reality of things as an obstacle to having their own way.

The bottom line is that spin is a form of lying. And it’s not the harmless “little white” lying we all do when we’re not being fully forthcoming about how we think someone looks in a new dress or not saying all we actually think about someone’s foolishness in order to maintain some degree of sensitivity and civility. Rather, it’s a deliberate attempt to manage the impressions of others and manipulate them, which makes it one of the most insidious and destructive forms of lying.

In Character Disturbance, I explain not only how various forms of lying are used by different problem personality types to manipulate others, but also how unhealthy attitudes toward the truth eventually lead to various disturbances of character development. I also discuss the incredible bind in which conscientious people find themselves because incessant, deliberate, spinning places such obstacles to having a much needed honest and constructive debate about the social issues that need our attention.

Today, more than ever, one would have to wonder how anyone would rightfully answer Pilate’s eternal and provocative question. But perhaps the larger issue is not so much whether anyone has the answer but rather whether anyone out there really cares anymore.

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