“Pix or it didn’t happen”:
Why do we put more faith in photos than words?
Our ears lie less than our eyes. Remember the saying:
Trust none of what you hear, half of what you see, and only what you experience.
I know for myself, I have more faith in my eyes and first hand witnessing of things.
How our eyes deceive us
But the problem — we should not put all of our faith in our eyes, our photos and videos. Why? We can easily get suckered with our eyes. Our vision distorts.
For example, let us discuss the recent video of the death of George. When you watch the video, our eyes and intuition tells us:
The cop (Derek) is obviously trying to kill George.
However this is the trillion dollar question:
In actuality, did Derek have the true intent to murder George? And if so, why? Was it because they knew each other personally (apparently they worked at the same night club as bouncers) and Derek was trying to solve a personal dispute? Or was it because George was African American? Would it have happened to an Asian-American, a Latino-American, or Caucasian person? We cannot know.
Also this is what I wonder:
What happened off-camera and off-video that we didn’t see, which cannot be knowable?
If history has taught us anything, photos and videos can be easily taken out of context and/or can mislead us. And we must be critical and know:
Photos and videos can never show or demonstrate 100% proof or truth.
The future of photo and video
We all got iPhones and smartphone cameras now. We can all shoot photos and videos and quickly and easily share it online. Information moves faster than fire now; and it is so easy to upload a video or photo to Twitter now, and have it retweeted millions of times.
“Pix or it didn’t happen”
Now photo and video is the ultimate truth. If we do not have photo or video proof, we don’t believe it. But if we do have photo or video proof, we often put too much faith into it. Perhaps the bias is:
When we see photos and videos, embodied reality seems to be 100% empirical and undeniable “truth”.
But what is the truth? It doesn’t exist. The ultimate truth can never be fully knowable. Because even the human agents may often not even know why they did something. And those who witness the happening and record it don’t have access to all the information.
We photographers — let us always remain skeptical and stay on our guard. We know that the camera lies and distorts. The camera can never show the full truth.