While it has always been true – in politics and life – that people tend to agree with views/facts that confirm what they already believe and discount those which run counter, it is a phenomenon (confirmation bias) which seems to be turning into the pathology of the 21st Century.
There is some astrology at the bottom but it’s worth pondering on these quotes from Katherine Viner on how technology is disrupting the truth.
“We’re getting countries where one half just doesn’t know anything at all about the other.”
“We are caught in a series of confusing battles between opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour, kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the connected and the alienated — between an informed public and a misguided mob.”
“Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything. It has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, personal histories, the leisure industry, retail, even government and security.”
“Instead of strengthening social bonds, or creating an informed public, or the idea of news as a civic good, a democratic necessity, it creates gangs, which spread instant falsehoods that fit their views, reinforcing each other’s beliefs, driving each other deeper into shared opinions, rather than established facts.”
“Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years than perhaps at any time in the past 500.”
So what happened 500 years ago? The Gutenberg printing press was invented which started a process whereby books and pamphlets could be copied out to the general population (those who could read). At that point Pluto was in Cancer and Neptune in Virgo – the exact opposite of the present Pluto in Capricorn and Neptune in Pisces.
What happened five years ago? Neptune moved into Pisces staying till 2026. Neptune in Pisces has in the past coincided with high points for poetry, socially-aware fiction (Dickens etc), religion and hospitals. Karl Marx and Engels were around, and the establishment of theoretical communism took hold last time round of Neptune in Pisces in the mid 19th Century. But feet-on-the-ground, facing-facts is not its strength. Indeed it can be thoroughly loony-tunes in its beliefs, spiralling off into weird delusions.
Maybe part of the ‘post-fact’ era we are in can be attributed to Neptune in Pisces. In the UK we have the inept but highly popular, far-left Corbyn, darling of the proletariat; and the Brexit campaign which admitted to lying the day after it won. In the US there’s Trump, whose interface with the truth (and decency) seems tenuous at best. Yet nothing critical that’s said makes a dent on their supporters. No one believes experts, politicians or the media, so most opt for the comfort of their own ‘echo chamber’ where they are soothed by like-minded opinions – the Daily Mail and Fox news on the right; and the Guardianistas on the left.
Neptune was also highlighted when the expression ‘Yellow Press’ first emerged in the 1890s with the Hearst newspapers, which went for scandal-mongering sensationalism – eye-catching headlines and no fact-checking. Neptune was conjunct Pluto then in communication-oriented Gemini, which can inflate fantasies. So it’s not a new phenomenon, but it is a great deal worse nowadays.
Not sure there’s any great astro-conclusions from all of this. Maybe it’s worse this year with Saturn square Neptune, inducing paranoia on top of Neptune in Pisces’s tendency to wing off onto the cloud tops. No one can distinguish truth from fantasy, so they cling onto what feels familiar and safe, no matter ‘evidence’ to the contrary.