The Half-Life of Lies

Is Longer Than Lives!

“Half-life” is a scientific term that tells us, basically, how long something can last. The half-life of radium – the length of time before at least half of its nuclei decay – is 1,602 years; hence, radium can continue to radiate its dangerous beams for a very long time.

Strangely, the half-life of flat-out lies appears to outlive truth by wide margins. Why that might be is a very hard question to plumb.

We may be done with Trump himself, but we are surely not done with his lies.

It now appears that 70 percent of Republicans actually believe Trump won the election, and that fraud is wrongly depriving him of a second term. As a result, a very significant part of our population will greet President Biden as an interloper. That’s not good for anybody, and especially the country

I have been asking four years: Who are these Trump lovers who unquestioningly embrace such blatant lies, and what is it that binds them so tightly to his coattails? The question remains, even when there are no longer coattails.

Before we can ask what might be done to bring some 70 million people back into reality, we have to answer how it is possible that so many cannot see with their very own eyes and ears what the facts are.

Trump famously declared during the 2016 campaign that he could shoot a person dead on Fifth Avenue and still win the election. He truly meant it then and it is perhaps still true. Metaphorically, at least, that is what is happening now. His ability to ‘capture the imagination’ of people is unimaginable to the less credulous among us. It is based on a form of ‘wish fulfillment’ where the wish in fact becomes the reality.

This ‘wish fulfillment’ process is something almost all people engage in. We might convince ourselves that we’re better looking than we really are, or smarter. Confronted with our own shortcomings, we have a tendency to emphasize the portions of reality that reflect more favorably on us, and to dismiss or dispute any evidence that might impede our glorified (falsified) self-image.

Trump, of course, takes this very human tendency to dangerous extremes. Indeed, Trump’s whole life has been a lie – a series of sputtering failures glossed over by inherited wealth and an endless stream of boastful mendacity about his talent, taste and brilliance. In this way, Trump appeals to peoples’ wish to create their own reality. He turns out to be a key to other peoples’ ability to deceive themselves into believing him because that lets them distort their own lives the way he has.

It is a rare to experience this phenomenon on such a massive scale. History, however, does offer examples: Hitler and Napoleon or, on the good side, Jesus, Abraham and Mohammed.

In normal ways and times, this ability to bend reality to one’s will is called ‘leadership.’ It starts intuitively and grows stronger with use and feedback. But it is a dangerous skill in the hands of crazy people.

So, to be very generous to Trump, our sad state of affairs may not be his fault (in the sense that he probably didn’t actually plan it); rather, the fault begins with his intuitive sense that he could get whatever he wanted simply BECAUSE he wanted it and his parents reinforced it by going along.

So, what can be done?

The chants of ‘lock her/him up’ at Trump’s rallies highlight the effectiveness of his counter-factual instincts. It may also point the way out of this problem. Perhaps if Trump were locked up and could no longer communicate at large (one cannot tweet from jail!) he would soon cease to be a force in millions of imaginations.

Therefore, the answer we are looking for is in fact to ‘lock him up’ immediately after January 20. Trying to overturn the results of a free and fair election sure looks like “treason” to me.

He may be anticipating that possibility and is probably already planning to get out of reach of the US legal system IMMEDIATELY.

Therefore, as he leaves the Capitol on Inauguration Day, (if he shows up) he should be arrested and taken directly to jail—for his many crimes already on the record.

May we all rest in peace – and reality — thereafter!


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