The Epiphany Moment
Like Night and Day

You Can't Make These Things Up

Make believe

Here is an answer the next time you hear or read, "You can't make these things up."

I think you can make it up.

Anything can be made up.

Some people are really good at making things up or transforming things through literary acumen.

The power of human creativity is vast and unfathomable. And most of us are very good at suspending disbelief to enter into the marvelous experience of a good narrative when it reinforces the waves of the narrative ocean in which we swim.

You have to admire the skill if not the veracity.

Since any old story can be invented it behooves the reader or listener to be discerning. Discernment takes skill and practice. There is nothing magical about it.

To be discerning is not to be cynical. It may not even require an over-balance of skepticism. 

It does require an appreciation for reality and some elements of reality are these.

  • Not everyone fact-checks stories before passing them on. If they trust the story-teller, they may assume the truth of the story. They unconsciously add a little to the story by shaving some of the details, adjectives, and qualifiers. The story grows as it is told based upon trust until it has a life of its own.
  • People tell stories because they support a narrative they already believe.
  • People add their interpretations to facts as they pass on stories.
  • People make stories up and tell them under the assumption that everyone understands they are fictitious. One of the hearers only remembers the story and not the fact that there are no facts. The next person tells it as a real-life event. Soon it is history.
  • Finally, well, not necessarily, finally, the the final mention here: Some people just lie.

So, how do you act with discernment?

They are several techniques.

  • Ask for sources.
  • Check for sources if none are given. There are libraries at your fingertips these days.
  • Read real history.
  • Hold off on passing anything on you are not sure of.
  • If you suspect it may not be true, but must tell it as a good story, make sure you are clear that you doubt the historicity and veracity, but that it is good fiction to illustrate your point.

There is nothing wrong with fiction told as fiction.

Believe it or not, you can make these things up.

And sometimes, there is truth in fiction, but that is another essay.