The science advocate and my colleague here at Patheos, Gleb Tsipursky at the blog the Intentional Insights, brought Pro-Truth Pledge into my attention, and I decided to sign it because I read the contents and decided that it is a very worthwhile thing to do.
Before I state my reason about why I signed this pledge, I’d like to quote them about what it is and what it stands for:
Tired of politicians who will say anything to get elected?
The Pro-Truth Pledge reverses the tide of lies by calling on politicians – and everyone else – to commit to truth-oriented behaviors. Take the pledge, demand that your elected representatives do so, and encourage your friends to take it!
The pledge basically requires you to abide by behaviors that make sure that you are spreading truth and not misinformation, and these actions include fact-checking, being aware of your own biases, sharing your sources, valuing expert opinions, etc. Basically, skepticism.
I signed the Pro-Truth pledge because I want to encourage skeptical and critical thinking, especially when it comes to politics and political behavior. I understand why this issue is very important for my American readers — Donald Trump basically memed his way into the White House by being the king of fake news. However, this issue has impacted Iranian politics a lot as well.
We used to be a nation under foreign influence. We were never officially colonized, but there has been times that our regimes were the puppets of foreign countries, mostly the UK, and at times when our country was divided as a sphere of influence between the British and Russians. Because of this history conspiracy theories are very prevalent among Iranians: in 1979, the revolutionaries were convinced that they were toppling a regime that was the puppet of the USA, and the Shah was equally convinced that the USA was behind the revolutionaries. Whenever a public figure dies, people begin attributing their death to assassination. The regime likes to blame everything on foreign meddling — usually on the “Zionists”, while the opposition blame everything on a conspiracy of the regime. The latest example was the recent terror attacks in Tehran, when many people called them false flag attacks.
There’s a strong link between a conspiratorial mind and a totalitarian mind. And critical thinking is the tool of a free person, transparency and seeking the truth is paramount for a democratic society: for the freedom of press, for the ideal of informed choice. To me, having a pro-truth attitude and promoting skepticism in the place of credulity is an integral part of my activism as a pro-democracy reformist.
That’s why I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge. You can do the same here.