I feel, therefore you are
When it first came out, I was incredibly excited for Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House. It promised a fly-on-the-wall account of Donald Trump’s first year in office, divulging enough bombshells in its preview excerpt to get everyone intrigued about what else Wolff had in store with his final product. But as the book was released and people’s thoughts began coming out, my enthusiasm for Fire and Fury dwindled.
After all, I didn’t want to waste time on a non-fiction book that espoused an unverifiable truth.
If it were up to Wolff though, those who are unsure about the veracity of his book should still buy and read it. However, on top of being passive readers, we should also take on the role of an active lie detector, finding the truth where it ‘strikes a chord.’
When questioned about his sources, the Fire and Fury author stated that his ‘evidence is the book. Read the book. If it makes sense to you, if it strikes a chord, if it rings true, it is true.’
‘Ringing true’ is far from being true. One is subjective while the other is objective, and when I read a book about the most important political figure of our time, I want nothing but the latter. When people start deciding on the facts rather than discovering them, we put ourselves on a very dangerous road from which there is no chance of return.
After Wolff responded to the question about his sources, the interviewer validated his ridiculous answer by saying, ‘I read it [the book]…a lot of the stuff did read as—did feel true. There were a lot of factual errors as well…’
Welcome to the modern age, ladies and gentlemen, where ‘a lot of factual errors’ isn’t enough to delegitimise an apocryphal book on the President of the United States. The contrast of the phrases ‘did feel true’ and ‘factual errors’ perfectly highlights the difference between what you feel and what is real.
The truth is not something for you to tarnish with human emotion. Facts exist independently of our ability to perceive them and definitely aren’t dictated by how we feel about them.
Feeling the world is flat does not make it any less round.
Nowadays, you don’t need to have evidence for your beliefs. All you need is a beginning, a conclusion, and an emotion to link the two. This kind of thinking—or lack thereof—is easy to apply to figures like Trump, who are unpredictable in their actions yet predictable in their character.
A story or factoid about the president may be blatantly false, but if it’s in line with how you perceive him, then you’re bound to believe it. For example, a lot of people think Donald Trump is a complete idiot, leading many to fall for the ‘Gorilla Channel lie’ that the president watches and yells at a TV channel dedicated to brawling gorillas.
What worries me is the sudden acceptance of this logical fault—the tendency to let intuition beat out evidence. I hate blind belief, especially when it’s guided by agendas. A lot of people and media outlets want every word of Wolff’s book to be true because it paints Trump in a bad light and brings the United States closer to either impeachment or the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.
We should let facts, not whims, guide our thoughts. We need to remove subjectivity from the discussion and focus entirely on what is and isn’t credible.
Enough of articles like, ‘Fire, fury and factual errors…book on Trump feels alarmingly accurate.’
Saying that something ‘feels alarmingly accurate’ is another way of saying you wished falsehoods were real. The article’s contention that after reading the book ‘you feel it is completely true to its subject,’ is ultimately meaningless. What do we gain from feeling like Trump fits an artificial narrative?
A truth that is felt is no better than a fact that is ‘alternative.’ In the end, both concepts get us no further towards uncovering secrets, lies, or innovations. We shouldn’t apply the fallible human gut-feeling to vital public knowledge.