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Authority and the Truth

Explored through history and human science

By Selena VazquezPublished 4 years ago 7 min read

Truth is defined as a judgment or idea that is true or accepted as true. The two areas of knowledge examples I will be talking about are the history of immigration in the United States as well as the way women were subjugated in the name of mental illnesses during the 1800s-1900s, which falls under human science. Authority does not always tell the truth, yet people still believe their explanations and trust authoritative figures. This is explicitly shown by the history of immigration laws and the mistreatment of women within human science.

History cannot always be trusted and is not always true. This claim means that new information comes to light in the future that refutes allegations made in the past and the truth can be manipulated and distorted by people in power. An example is the history of immigration laws in the United States. The Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations increased border security due to how people in the past were constantly told that according to history, immigration keeps increasing and that immigrants are dangerous, which relates back to how authority influences a population. These previous situations with immigration led to the current debate of building of a wall around the southern border. There are those who are against the building of this wall because it would cost between fifteen to twenty billion dollars to build and maintain, and staffing the contraption would lead to generations of taxpaying (Connor, Season 1 EP 16). The implications are that deportations of the past have caused a stigma around immigrants today and they are portrayed by authority as being violent. This demonization of immigrants has turned into persecution; under President Trump, immigrant arrests are up 42% and non-criminal arrests have increased 334% (Patriot Act, Season 1 EP 6). Authority does shape the knowledge of a population to a large extent in terms of history; this is shown by the real-life example of immigration because authority is asserting that history proves how immigrants are becoming more dangerous and increasing in number, and regardless of if it is true, people still believe the authoritative figures. History is written and told to society by people in power, who tend to be corrupt, biased, and prejudiced. Thus, authority can declare false statements as long as they are well-written enough to convince huge amounts of people.

History influences the future, whether or not the statements are accurate. To clarify, decisions made in the past now affect the way society currently is; as well as the choices and decisions that are being made today. To continue with the previous real-life example, Trump and his supporters rally for stricter immigration policies and believe that the wall will stop Mexican immigrants. President Trump asserted that Mexicans “are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they are rapists.” The quote leads to the term stereotype because Trump is stereotyping Mexicans as being criminals and rapists. Emotive language also applies because crime and rape are highly-charged words that instill fear into Americans. Some people blindly believe him simply because he is the President of the United States instead of researching whether what he proclaims is factual. The implications are that this ramp-up of violent immigrants is taking focus away from real threats to this country, like right-wing extremists; the number of hate crimes has continuously increased since 2016 when Trump became President. These right-wing extremists have bombed, shot, and murdered people because of the beliefs Trump and those authoritative figures before him have spread. Authority is always shaping the knowledge of a population. In terms of history, this is done by using history as a weapon to push for certain laws and/or policies, even if those historical facts are wrong, as well as hiding certain aspects of history from the population. This example has shown how good explanations do not have to be true, they just have to convince the masses. The bridge between human science and history is that both of these areas of knowledge have an immense impact on people’s judgments, human science in terms of why people make the choices they make and history as in how one decision influences the decisions made in the future.

Human science is not concrete, and that leads to inaccurate scientific theories. In the field of human science, factual data is hard to produce due to the fact that humans are a very complex species. An example of this situation is how women were treated by physicians in the name of mental illness during the 1800s-1900s. Women were considered inferior and that their purpose was to dedicate themselves to maternal and domestic responsibilities; thus, the term reactance applies because a woman who rebelled against these gender stereotypes was declared mentally unstable. Due to the authority being male doctors, the conclusion that women who did not want gender stereotypical lives were insane was widely accepted and unquestioned. These authoritative figures had such an influence that there were women, even those that were maltreated, who believed the diagnoses were valid. The implication is that this lead to the mistreatment of thousands of women, including those who did not suffer from a mental illness and those who actually did and were treated incorrectly. These false diagnoses reinforced gender stereotypes and play a part in the sexism that continues to prevail in society today. This also influenced the rise of feminism and women’s suffrage in the fight for equal rights. Authority does mold the minds of a population to a large extent, regardless of how inaccurate the information is; the real-life example shows this because the male authorities were not doubted and their findings were considered legitimate by a populous quantity of both women and men.

Human science is a complex and constantly changing field of study. This has to do with the time period, technological advances, and the social/political state of society. Continuing with the previous example, there is now new information regarding women and mental health. The term holism means the belief that the best way to understand some things is by looking at them as a whole rather than by analyzing them into separate parts. This refers to how doctors have now found out that genetics, chemical imbalance, hormones, and traumatic situations can all influence the mental health of women. For example, women are shown to be affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because they are exposed to physical and sexual violence. The authoritative figures change and become more diverse the information that is shared broadens. There are also now more effective therapies, treatment centers, and medications for female health disorders available in more countries. In terms of doctors as a form of authority, women are now able to pursue a career in medicine and became authoritative figures, so this impacts how women’s health is studied and viewed. Although, gender bias does still exist in the field of mental illnesses and women are continuously mistreated. As an example, doctors are more likely to diagnose women with mental illnesses than a man with the same symptoms, and women who report trauma from abuse are sometimes blamed even though they are the victims. The implications are that as time continues, there are more amounts of progress with women’s health, but inaccuracies said by past authorities still contribute to the social factors that lead to the discrimination of women with mental diseases today. Even if the explanation makes sense in the current state of society, that does not mean they are scientifically true.

When the governmental authorities portray immigrants as being criminals, it plays a significant role in the views and beliefs of citizens; even if the authority is racist, malicious, or fraudulent people will still be compelled by them. The real-life situation related to human science was how women were treated in the 1800s-1900s in terms of mental health. The societal view that women were lesser and how the doctors scientifically incorrect testaments were widely shared combined to form the emergence of a social landscape where women being ill-treated was seen as justifiable and reasonable. Another perspective in these circumstances is how the discrimination of women and immigrants all stem from the racism and sexism that has been embedded in society for centuries.


About the Creator

Selena Vazquez

She/Her/Hers-Fandoms-Books-Movies-TV shows-Intersectional Feminist-Slytherin-Aquarius- Just an IB student trying to get CAS hours-

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