Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

WARNING SPOILER ALERT – Don’t blame me if you keep reading the colossal spoilers ahead…

Stranger Things is a Netflix original drama (sci-fi horror).

Here’s the Wikipedia description:

Stranger Things is set in the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the early 1980s. The nearby Hawkins National Laboratory ostensibly performs scientific research for the United States Department of Energy, but secretly does experiments into the paranormal and supernatural, including those that involve human test subjects. Inadvertently, they have created a portal to an alternate dimension called “the Upside Down”. The influence of the Upside Down starts to affect the unknowing residents of Hawkins in calamitous ways.

Barbara Holland, a friend of Nancy Wheeler, mysteriously vanished. Nancy and her friend (boyfriend?), Jonathan Byers, investigated Barbara’s disappearance and eventually discovered that she had been killed by a Demogorgon, a predatory creature from the Upside Down. Nancy and Jonathan secretly obtained a confession of wrongdoing implicating Hawkins Lab for opening the portal to the alternate dimension. They took the tape to Murray Bauman, a private investigator and conspiracy theorist. Here’s how the conversation went…

Murray Bauman:

You’re being naive, Nancy! Those people They’re not wired like me and you, okay? They don’t spend their lives trying to get a look at what’s behind the curtain. They like the curtain. It provides them stability, comfort, definition. This… this would open the curtain, and open the curtain behind that curtain, okay? So the minute someone with an ounce of authority calls bullshit, everyone will nod their heads and say, “See? Ha! I knew it! It was bullshit.” That is, if you even get their attention at all.

Nancy Wheeler:

You’re saying we did all of this for nothing?

Murray Bauman:

I’m saying, I’m thinking.

While Bauman is thinking, he’s mixing a drink. At first the drink is too strong, so he waters it down a little. And then he has an idea.

Murray Bauman:

We moderate it. Just like this drink here. We make it more tolerable. Perhaps Barbara was exposed to some dangerous toxins.

Although Nancy and Jonathan were not able to reveal the truth, they were able to tell a lie that would ensure Hawkins Lab was shut down, and Barbara’s body was properly laid to rest.

The end of the episode left me asking myself this question:

Is a lie that accomplishes something positive better than a truth that accomplishes nothing?

So what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Is a lie that accomplishes something positive better than a truth that accomplishes nothing?

In my opinion, to answer the question properly, one might need to wait around, perhaps for a very long time. In fact, one could die waiting, and later on, perhaps even hundreds or thousands or millions of years later, the nothing the truth supposedly accomplished will turn out to be something after all. And the something the truth accomplishes could be far better than the something temporarily accomplished by the lie. It seems to me that the question my brain conjured in response to the Stranger Things episode represents an impatient and limiting view of the power of truth.

On this blog, I continue to write about truth, like Bauman’s drink at full strength, even though “the minute someone with an ounce of [religious] authority calls bullshit, everyone will nod their heads and say, ‘See? Ha! I knew it! It was bullshit.'” I don’t take it personally, because I understand that they are using the wrong scorecard.


  • Mary Vanderplas January 31, 2018 at 5:59 am

    I agree with what you say about the need to take the long view – i.e., to wait and see what effects the truth has and perhaps, as you point out, to be content with not living long enough to see the positive fruits, as opposed to settling for some short-term, seemingly positive effect of distorting the truth or telling an un-truth. Yes, not to do this reflects a short-sighted, limiting view of the power of truth to bring justice and freedom to human life. In the case of this story, the objective in lying was to “moderate” the message that implicated this lab in Barbara’s disappearance such that it would be heard by “those people” (the people who work at the lab, I’m assuming) and justice would be served (the lab would be shut down, etc.). Whether or not this was the best outcome is hard to know. Perhaps you’ll find out as you tune in to future episodes. It would be interesting to know. In any event, I agree with what you say about it being best to tell the truth, whole and unvarnished, trusting the power of truth to set people free.

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