Luigi Pirandello’s 1917 play “Right You Are-If You Think You Are” explores reality and the perception of reality. In the play, the “truth” of the matter remains a mystery.

We are struggling today to understand why so many people believe that things are real or “true” when the only evidence of their reality or truth is that they are believed.

Thus, true because believed to be true is the definition of tautology: “right you are-if you think you are” just as is the phrase “they arrived one after the other in succession.” Both are examples of saying the same thing twice but in different words.

In government and politics beliefs and actions that are not fact-based (or contrary to facts) represent a particularly pernicious trend.

Two current beliefs and the actions they spawn come to mind. First, that vaccination against Covid-19 is dangerous and must be avoided. Second, that the 2020 election of Joe Biden was the product of theft, fraud and other evils.

Neither proposition is supported by reality and each is a cancer on the body politic that must be excised.

In the case of “vaccine hesitancy,” a preposterous phrase designed to sugar-coat behavior that endangers health and safety by permitting Covid 19 to proliferate and kill, inoculation must be mandated except in the cases where the likely consequences of vaccination materially affect the life and safety of persons  who refuse. Violators might be condemned to watch Tucker Carlson reruns for twenty-four hours straight.

The “big lie” of the 2020 election being a “steal” poses severe danger to our democracy just as attempts to eliminate this falsehood portend their own dangers.

Unlike vaccine opposition, things happen to buttress the big lie. Let’s take the actions of that clown car, the New York City Board of Elections. Last week it released a “preliminary” tally in the ranked choice mayoral election that included over 100,000 votes left over from a test run of its tabulation software. This kind of monumental screw-up, quickly corrected by the Board, gives big lie supporters some cover even though it involved incompetence, not theft.

To “stop the steal” adherents, Board of Elections incompetence rather than venality is just a minor detail. The vote was wrongly tallied and reported and that’s it.

The root cause of the widespread belief in fictitious objections to promoting the public health and to confirming valid election results is a distrust of public institutions. The anti-vaccers don’t trust government approval of the safety and efficacy of Covid 19 vaccines. And the “stop the steal” folks distrust election administrators, courts and even legislators who have nixed that myth.

This distrust arises from the idiotic behavior of some (not all) of our politicians. People hate politics and politicians. TV programmers will tell you that when politicians are featured on the nightly news viewers want to throw a shoe at the tv.

There is an exception for the cablenets whose viewers are addicted to watching one-sided opinion albeit in reduced numbers since the clatter of the previous occupant of the White House has subsided.

Deeply held “beliefs” are not foreign to us. But an ill advised certainty of rectitude is a danger. Judge Learned Hand said it best: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure it is right.”

Let that be a lesson to anti-vaccers and big liars.