There’s been a bit of a hullabaloo in the USA this week: some of you may have noticed that there’s a new President over there and his team are working from a different textbook to most.
So far, they’ve embraced principles spelled out by one of the greatest thinkers this planet has produced: George Orwell.
I for one, am very excited by the theory of using Orwell as a guide, but sadly this new Government seems to have not had the obvious thought:
- “Let’s make sure that Orwell’s terrifying vision of a dystopian future is avoided”
and instead has gone with
- “Gee, those dystopian dictators have some really good ideas.”
Central to the novel 1984 is the Ministry of Truth. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it right now (before the new US government decides to have it changed)
The Ministry of Truth is the propaganda ministry. As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.
As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures “truth” in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.(Wikipedia)
Things really kicked off when the most senior media person for the new Administration spouted what any reasonable person, no matter what their political persuasion, would lovingly describe at “bare-faced lies in an incredibly egregious and rampantly nonsensical way”. I’ve got no idea if the guy’s mother is still alive, but I imagine she’ll be reaching for the soap to wash his mouth out, before disowning him, changing her name and moving to Canada.
In an attempt to NOT say, “Well, our guy was lying through his arse”, one of his colleagues stated that he was just quoting “Alternative Facts“. Well, that was like Viagra for hashtags.
As much as the Internet has gone ballistic with Alternative Facts, I’d have to say that we in the tea community are at least a decade ahead on this. People have been using Alternative Facts to sell tea for hundred of years, but it really kicked of with Dr Oz and others of his ilk.
Welcome to the Brave New World*
Generally it works like this:
- Researchers do research on tea or tea extracts and then publish the results.
- Journalists cherry pick the results to sell articles with sensational headlines
- People believe what they read
- Vendors use that to sell tea using inflated claims, untrue claims etc.
It’s like a Gold Rush.
- Someone finds a bit of gold Somewhere
- Journalists print “Somewhere is full of gold!!”
- Prospectors rush to Somewhere
- And the people making money are the people selling maps to where the gold is in Somewhere, complete with easy-to-find “X” marking the spot.
You only have to search for a few minutes. Try “Can tea make you slim” and seven out of the ten Google results are basically Alternate Facts.
When it comes to alternative facts, tea marketing is right up there. Here’s just some of them:
- Tea X can ‘detox your liver”
- Tea Y can help you shed 134.7 pounds in four days
- Tea Z can improve your memory by 34,7 %
And so it goes.
I’d also argue you can add “our teab*gs taste good” and indict every major tea company on the planet, but that’s more subjective.
Quite coincidentally, about six weeks ago we set up a series of pages on our website to counter some of this misinformation and help people make more informed choices.
Here’s some quick links:
- A rundown of the supposed health benefits of white tea and what the facts actually support
- A rundown of the supposed health benefits of peppermint “tea” and what the facts actually support
- A rundown of ‘slimming’ tea and what the facts actually support
- The facts about caffeine and white tea
Is it too hopeful of me to wish that what everyone learns from current events is that facts are facts. By making “Alternative Facts” a mainstream concept, let’s hope this quickly shines a spotlight on the practice and leads to a much more sensible, fact-led debate in all arenas.
I’ll just go and make a cup of tea and wait for that to happen.
Maybe more than one.
After all, I drink 132** cups of tea every day, which gives me an IQ of 495.6***, a six pack**** and an average running speed of 132.5 kph.*****
*To introduce a totally different dystopian novel for no discernible reason. Another favourite of mine.
** An Alternative Fact. I mean 10-15 cups.
*** An Alternative Fact. I mean ‘quite highish’.
**** An Alternative Fact. I mean I have a six pack of cider in the fridge.
***** An Alternative Fact. I mean running while on a train.