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John Burns' Blog

A Travesty of the Truth

Published: Monday, December 19, 2016

There's an old Scottish saying, "Facts are chiels". It means, you can't argue with the facts; "chiel" means a young man.  I just looked it up and it originates with my namesake Robert Burns in his poem A Dream and the lines are

"But facts are chiels that winna ding 

An downa be disputed" 

It means that facts are fellows that will not waver and cannot be disputed.  

But times change.  The Oxford Dictionary has declared that the word of the year for 2016 is "post-truth."  This means, 'relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.'  And lying, they should have added.  Post-truth as a word has been around for a few years but it has really taken off this year in the wake of the Brexit vote and the US Presidential election. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have managed to carry the day, despite both having a reputation for being economical with the truth. The late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, 'Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.'  Not any more it seems. 

The post-truth age isn't confined to politics. The realm of pet food is also infected. Misinformation (let's not call it lying) is the order of the day and the more often it’s repeated and the greater the conviction with which it is said, the more traction it gains. Visitors to this parish will be familiar with my thoughts on this and I will limit myself to one example.  I've been checking on the website Allaboutdogfood which rates dog foods according to the ingredients.  This self-proclaimed authority rates Burns Choice poorly on the site because it has a high proportion of maize which "falls a long way short of brown rice in terms of its nutrients and FROM OUR EXPERIENCE (my emphasis) it is much more likely to cause dietary intolerance than rice.  Conclusion: a middle of the road dog food."

This is followed by the strap line 'Share the knowledge.'

What a travesty of the truth.

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