Peculiar Phrases Like 1984

Jayme Johnson
3 min readFeb 3, 2017

The fact that the Orwell book 1984 has become a bestseller on Amazon as of late is interesting and not surprising. However, the book was just as relevant during the election process and the hysteria concerning Russia. Back then, beliefs that had a foundation of “moderate confidence” were promoted as knowledge. In other words, beliefs were equated with knowledge, even though there was no actual evidence that Russia actually hacked the election. There is a huge difference between having moderate confidence that Russia interfered in the election on the one hand, with claiming that Russia hacked the election — including the paper ballots in Michigan — on the other hand.

In my previous post on Medium I mentioned the phrase “facts so far.” It’s important to make it clearer what I meant by that, especially after the comments by Trump’s Counselor Conway about so called “alternative facts.” An example of facts so far, is when something is true in the present, but is later proved to be wrong. That can happen for several reasons, but an example might be a more powerful telescope. Things that no one even knew existed could appear with the use of such a tool. New things could be learned about distant planets that render present knowledge obsolete.

So called “alternative facts”, on the other hand, don’t make a hell of a lot of sense. It would be interesting to hear what Conway thinks she means by that phrase, or if she just came up with it on the spur of the moment to argue her point. Last night she came up with the notion that there was a terrorist attack at Bowling Green, which didn’t even happen, so it’s possible she was just making stuff up.

Then we have the Sunday shows. Last Sunday, Priebus claimed that Trump “was not willing to be wrong” about the Muslim ban. That isn’t the same thing as moderate confidence. That’s more like a phrase uttered by an upset baby if they were able to put sentences together. However it’s not that much different than treating your beliefs as knowledge when you have zero evidence. In his case it is unwillingness to find evidence for being wrong.

The other day I was driving home and listened to Hannity for a few minutes. I can tolerate him for a few minutes, but it takes some effort. He went to the trouble of listing off several terrorist attacks to somehow justify the Muslim ban for his listeners. The list went on for quite awhile, even though he failed to mention any that included a white guy like Dylann Roof and Jared Loughner. He also failed to mention one of the latest attacks… in Quebec — the same attack that had his news station falsely reporting on it for at least 24 hours on Twitter that it wasn’t a white guy. Hannity is a perfect example of someone who goes out of his way to make the “evidence” fit nicely with his views. That explains why a lot of the Republicans suddenly found love for Wikileaks during the election even though some of them wanted him executed just a few years ago.

Even Obama’s use of the phrase “looking forward” has a tinge of 1984 to it. He basically allowed despicable conditions to be maintained for any future president. Now Trump can use torture if he wants, or use the hell out of drones if he pleases.

I’m trying to remember a phrase that Cheney used in the past as well that was peculiar. It had something to do about preventing something that may have happened (even though you are unable to know that it would have happened in the first place). I’m not sure. It was some kind of preemptive mumbo jumbo. Maybe even Rumsfeld was the one who introduced that kind of muddled concept.

Now, if I claimed with certainty that Cheney said something like that, it would not be the same thing as knowledge. As we all know, certainty is not the same thing as knowledge, even though lots of people need to be reminded of that.