Are You a Victim of the Illusion of Truth?

Views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog are solely that of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. 

Over and over again you and I hear the term, Fake News.

When someone says Fake News, they follow it with what is supposed to be the truth. The question arises – Is what they’re saying the truth?

When I started to research this, I came across the concept of . . .

. . . The Illusion of Truth

The Illusion of Truth simply says If something is repeated frequently enough, we tend to believe it has to be true even if it is false.

Let me see if I can help you understand this more.

What city is the murder capital of the United States?

Did you think Chicago? If you did, was it because of all the murders you hear about in Chicago?

If Chicago is your answer, you are wrong. The city with the highest murder rate in the United States is . . .

St. Louis, Missouri

The number of murders in a city does not determine its ranking. The number of murders for every 100,000 people who live there determines it.

In 2021, there were 69.3 murders for every 100,000 people living in St. Louis. The highest in the country.

While we hear of the number of murders in Chicago regularly, there were only 24 murders for every 100,000 people living there. It was tenth on the list.

Although there are regular reports on the number of murders in Chicago, there are 9 cities in the U S with higher murder rates.

This may also surprise you. Memphis is higher on the list than Chicago. It is in eighth with 27.1 murders for every 100,000 people.

You may say ok, but Chicago is far more dangerous than any other American city. Again, you are wrong.

Here, St Louis is in first place with 2,082 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. Chicago is 20th on that list with 1,099 violent crimes for every 100,000 people.
Shockingly, Memphis is in fourth place with 2,003 and Nashville is in 16th place with 1,138.

By now, you probably have a better understanding of the Illusion of Truth.

Have you heard of Joseph Goebbels? He was the Minister of Propaganda in Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. He was master at his craft and is credited with saying:

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”

As I thought more and more about the Illusion of Truth, I suddenly realized it has a far greater effect on many of our lives than most of us ever realized.

Sometimes our parents, aunts and uncles, teachers in school and other authority figures told us things about ourselves that weren’t true. When our parents were angry or when we were not acting in the way they wanted, they may have said something like:

How Could You Be So Stupid?
You’re Never Going to Amount to Anything.

As we grew up, this was reinforced by other family members, teachers, and other authority figures.

Our aunts and uncles may have liked other nieces and nephews more than they liked us. When they talked about them, they normally said how great they were. It was obvious there was no way we could measure up to them.

In school, teachers had their favorites. If we weren’t one, it was clear we weren’t as smart as they were.

The sad thing is . . .

. . . We Accepted What Everyone Said
As True and Never Questioned It

Suddenly it turned into a belief we had about ourselves. We were dumb and that’s the way it was.

Frequently in the back of our heads we heard a voice saying …

. . . How Could I Be So Stupid?

The sad thing is that voice in the back of our head became louder and louder than our parents’ voices ever were. We may still hear it.

We didn’t think about going to college after high school because we believed we weren’t smart enough.

When we started working, we settled for a low paying job. That’s all we thought we could get. Likewise, we could never advance to a better paying job at the company where we worked because we wouldn’t be able to do it.

The belief carried over to our personal lives. Growing up, we weren’t part of the In-crowd. We developed this Loser image of ourselves. We were afraid to ask someone out on a date because they might say no and we would be crushed.

It is sad how untrue things said to us early in our lives have continued through the years right up to the present. Right now, that voice in the back of our heads is still saying untrue things about us.

Let me tell you about 3 of my male friends. One is in his 50’s and the other 2 are in their 60’s.

At a young age, all 3 were told everything I already mentioned. Not smart enough to go to college. Never get a good job. Never make anything of themselves. Unfortunately, they believed it.

It Still Haunts Them Today

My first friend is in his 60’s. He surprised his parents and got a good job at a small company. His employer liked him. Over the years he had worked his way up and was making good money. Then the financial crisis in 2009 hit. His employer had to downsize. He was let go.

He suddenly had to look for work. Because of the beliefs he had about himself, he struggled.

He found one job that paid a fraction of what he made before. After working there for about 6 months, his boss let him go and hired one of his friends to replace him.

He then found a job which paid less. He was only there a short time before the company eliminated the work he was doing.

He then found a job at this company where he’s still employed 8 years later. He started at the minimum wage. Since then, his pay has increased but even now he is just making enough to survive.

My second friend, also in his 60’s. has a low opinion of himself and his abilities. When I first met him, he was making a little over $8 an hour. Then he got a job for $10. Now he’s at one paying $11. He is uncomfortable in interviews and does not like to look for jobs. He waits until a job falls in his lap. Naturally, these don’t pay what he’s worth.

My third friend is in his 50’s. His sister had been working at this company and told him they were looking for people. It’s a manufacturing company that doesn’t care for its employees. The pay is very low and employee turnover is high. The company doesn’t care because a large number of people are always looking for jobs. As soon as an employee leaves, they have a replacement.

My friend was an exception. He worked there for seven years. Although they didn’t treat him well and he hated the work, he didn’t have the confidence to go out and look for another job. Over the years his hourly pay increased. Finally, his pay reached the point where it was easy for the company to replace him with someone making less.

He is looking for another job. However, those untrue beliefs he has had about himself haunt him and prevent him from trying to find work that he would be good at.

Sadly, None of These 3 Have Any Retirement Savings

They will never be able to retire. They will not be able to provide for themselves and their spouses on their monthly Social Security benefit. They will have to continue to work until they no longer can.

All three have talents they could have used to get good paying jobs throughout their lives. They don’t have to be where they are right now.

Unfortunately, each believed false things said to them when they were young. Those have plagued them throughout their lives.

You can see how false beliefs coming from the Illusion of Truth destroy a person’s life.

The questions arise . . .

. . .What Are You Going to Do About It?

You do have the opportunity to make a difference.

Your parents may have told you untrue things about yourself. That may have been reinforced by other family members and teachers in school.

As time passed, you started to believe them. Now that voice in the back of your head continues to scream that much louder than the voices of those who told you it originally.

You are a unique and valuable person. You have talents and abilities others don’t. Any time that voice in back of your head puts you down, stop and say out loud.

That’s Not True. It Never Was.
I am No Longer Going to listen to You.

You are no longer going to prevent me from being the person I really am.

If you do that every time you hear that voice, you will eliminate that false belief and you will feel better about yourself.

Did You Do to Your Children What Your Parents Did to You?

When angry, did you tell them they were stupid? Did you tell them they weren’t smart?

You can’t take that back now. However, you can apologize to them for it. You can let them know you never should have said it and let them know how you admire them for the way they are. Also encourage them to use their talents and abilities in their lives.

Get in the habit of complimenting your sons and daughters and nieces and nephews any time you can. Always look for something good they do. Appreciate them for it.

If you have grandchildren or great grandchildren, make sure to let them know they are special. Encourage them regularly.

Any Time You See Another Doing Something Good, Compliment Them

If they aren’t acting the way they should, gently correct them. Don’t get angry and put them down.

Strive to have a positive impact on the lives of all the people around you. You will be amazed the impact this will have on them.

As you do this with young people, you will see their confidence rising and becoming all they can be. They won’t be limited by that untrue and erroneous belief they are not good enough.


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, I would love to get them. Please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is