In a very alarming development, it has been discovered that all 13 local tax measures that were reported to have passed after election night on Nov. 3 have instead all failed. The staff at the county’s Registrar of Voters’ office, using new computer equipment, entered all of the ballots into the machines with the wrong edges facing to the left. Hence, instead of the tax measures passing by the required two-thirds majority needed, they all actually were defeated by that amount.

Rollie column

Rollie Atkinson

This is astounding. It’s almost too improbable to believe. And, there is a reason for this because what we just reported here is a lie, fabricated here to make a larger point. That is, lies don’t work unless they are believed.

We don’t need to make up more lies about the election we have just endured. The election of 2020 will be known through history for many things, and one will be the nonstop spewing of falsehoods, bald-faced allegations, wild conspiracy theories, compounded layers of lies upon lies and straight-into-the-camera perfidy.

We’ve been lied to by our politicians and presidents before — Nixon (I can not tell a lie), Clinton (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”), Bush (there are weapons of mass destruction) and Obama (you can always keep your doctor.) But Trump is the runaway winner of the Pinocchio Prize. The Washington Post has counted 22,247 lies by him in his 1,316 days in office.

But let’s not make this about him or them. Let’s make this about us, because lies don’t work unless someone believes them. We need to be better human polygraphs. Like the best journalists, police detectives and all-knowing mothers, we need to be better crap detectors.

We know that social media can spread millions of lies per second and we know we help when we share, link and re-post these untruths instead of fact-checking first. We can get better at this.

We don’t need computers or machines to tell lies. Politicians have been lying to us forever, just as we have been telling lies to each other.  Hell, we even lie to ourselves. But some lies, like whether Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did or did not have weapons of mass destruction, are more dangerous than “little white lies” we might tell to avoid a parent’s wrath.

Telling lies is actually part of being human and a social being, even though young children are incapable of lying until they learn it at about age three, according to many studies. Some people with certain brain injuries or rare types of Parkinson’s disease cannot tell lies. Imagine being brutally stuck with a physiological condition where you can only speak the truth. What if you had to be honest when your spouse asks if they are too fat or too thin? People that tell too many truths are often called rude, tactless or mean. People that tell “innocent” lies can be popular for their flattery, geniality or diplomacy.

Scientific studies have shown it takes more brainpower to tell lies than to tell the truth. That fact might prove that Trump is the stable genius he claims to be. But is all this lying necessary? Certainly this election has shown it’s gotten out of hand. We’re not living in times where young George Washington lied about cutting down a cherry tree. We’re facing thunderstorms of lies now threatening our free and fair elections. If we believe too many of these Election 2020 lies then we are helping to destroy our democracy. Lies don’t work unless they are believed.

To combat lies, we must first seek the truth and know it when we find it. How do we do that? Start with trying to always tell our inner selves the truth. Don’t repeat obvious lies. Be ready to warn others about misstated facts or opinions that claim to be facts. Ask questions. Be ready for answers we may not agree with or like.

Only the truth will keep us free. We are currently witnessing a historical lesson about this.

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