Why all the lies?

All the millions of words wasted talking about “fake news” is a smoke screen for something more sinister. Fake news is loosely defined as information that is presented as fact that the speaker/writer knows or should know is not true.

When you say something that is not true, we learn at an early age that it is called a lie. Even using the word fake is “fake.” By definition, fake is something that is not genuine, which is most appropriately applied to that Rolex watch made in Bangkok. A statement that is not true is not a counterfeit; it is a lie pure and simple.

Genuine fake news—I know, that sounds dumb, but go with me on this—is like telling someone they look good when, in fact, they look horrible. It is a lie, but we even have a term for that: a “white lie.” But what we are faced with everyday is not fake news. It is blatant in-your-face lying. These are false statements that have no anchor in reality.

Remember that the best lies always have an element of truth. It has to make some sense, but only just enough so that you do not question too deeply. Politicians are great at this. Bring up an unsolved problem, and the politician can easily say it was caused by his or her predecessor. Part of that is true to the extent that most problems from government have roots going back in time.

In addition to having an element of truth, a great lie also lets the listener fill in the blanks. “I always go to the bank on Wednesday, so why would you think I was the robber this Wednesday?” The statement this week from government regarding the Dengvaxia controversy is a case in point.

The manufacturer now says that there could be a problem if the vaccine is given to people that have not been previously infected. The government stated that 90 percent of the children given the vaccine had previously been infected, so the potential problem is small.

We all know that dengue is prevalent in the Philippines. Two of my four sons were infected twice, one son two years ago as an adult. So we fill in the blanks and accept the government statement as factual.

However, there are not any facts. It is all an assumption. Facts would be the Department of Health showing the blood tests proving—not assuming—only 10 percent had not been previously infected.

When your stockbroker tells you that stock prices went down on “profit taking,” that is a good lie also. There is an element of truth in that if many participants who have a profit sell all at the same time, the price will probably go down. The stock broker cannot quantify the profit taking statement, so we are forced to fill in the blanks.

However, if we think deeper, we know that selling is also done at a loss, not only for profit taking. We also know that prices go down if there are not any buyers. That is why department stores have three-day sales on “selected items.”

Further, what about when the stock index is down 30 points and all of the loss is attributable to a single issue that just hit a one-year low? By the way, that happens often. But the question is, why are we lied to so frequently on so many topics?

*****

E-mail me at [email protected] Visit my web site at www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.