Plato was right: images and stories are two-faced. We need them to learn our way around the world when we’re completely helpless in it, well before we have any idea what we’re learning, or why it’s important. No wonder we trust them, and no wonder they’re an especially soft target for exploitation. We need to trust them – and we must suspect them.
Nathanael Stein, professeur de philosophie à Florida State University
Plato was right again: not knowing how to deal with images is a basis for personal and political disaster. A well-crafted story can affect us whether or not we think it’s actually true, since by default – in fact, by training – we trust them without thinking that they must meet ordinary standards of literal truth. It’s a lesson we relearn every day, startling ourselves with our own gullibility, and living with the consequences. From this perspective, it seems naive to think that we could fight the influence of lies and bubbles on social media with a thumbs-down button, or a ‘trustworthiness indicator’, or even classes in critical thinking. If we hope to find remotely plausible solutions, we should recognise how deep the problem runs.