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Chest-faced men and other lies

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By Scott Shepherd

In his 1596 account of a voyage to South America, English explorer Walter Raleigh wrote of a strange tribe living there. He tells us that their "heads appear not above their shoulders" and that "they are reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouths in the middle of their breasts."

Raleigh does not claim to have seen these peculiar people; he's repeating the claims that others had made. I hope this doesn't come as too much of a surprise, but these claims of a headless race wandering around the New World were, in fact, false.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and plenty of outlandish claims are still doing the rounds. Only this month, former U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the problem of "what some have called truth decay." Pun aside, I'm not sure many would dispute the suggestion that modern public discourse has a serious problem with whatever you want to call it: lies, fake news, disinformation and so on. Obama suggests that his successor Donald Trump is part of the problem, but as Obama himself argues, it clearly did not start with Trump, nor will it end when he leaves the White House next year.

Of course, you can hardly pretend the outgoing president is a paragon of honesty, no matter how ardently you support him; but I'm not particularly interested in Trump-bashing ― plenty of others will continue to do that.........

© The Korea Times

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