Trick or truth! Can you even tell the difference?

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What if everything you know is fake?

That is a premise that was repeatedly explored by author Philip K. Dick in his science fiction novels. Some of his stories have been made into popular films such as “Total Recall,” where a blue collar worker in the far future doesn’t know whether he is really a secret agent or just pretending to be one as part of an implanted memory.

In Dick’s novel “Time Out of Joint,” protagonist Ragle Gumm gets confirmation that something is terribly wrong with the world around him when he attempts to buy a beer at an outdoor food stand. Ragle drops a fifty-cent piece on the counter only to see first the coin and then the entire structure vanish, all to be replaced by a single slip of paper on which were printed the words “SOFT-DRINK STAND.”

Needless to say, such an experience is terrifying. It is no wonder, therefore, that lots of the characters in Phil Dick’s novels prefer to hang on to their illusions, their false realities, their provided worlds rather than confront the fact that they are being manipulated by outside forces.

By the same token, I suppose we should not be surprised that so many people prefer to hang on to their illusions about how America works than to admit that so much of what they know just isn’t so, as Ronald Reagan famously said about liberals.

In almost every aspect of our lives — political, social and even scientific — we are being wrapped in a tapestry of lies with all the substance of Philip K. Dick’s soda stand. Here are some commonly asserted falsehoods that you are expected to believe just because they are repeated often enough.

Falsehood No. 1) Women are paid 77 percent of what men make for the same work, so therefore we need to pass new legislation to ensure women are paid fairly.

Actually, laws already exist to forbid gender-based pay discrimination, and occasions of true bias are rare. What the proponents of pay equity really want is equal pay for unequal work. They lump all jobs held by women together and all jobs held by men together and then create an artificial and meaningless average “male wage” and “female wage.”

There is not even the pretense that such numbers represent wages for “equal work.” It is a sham and a mockery intended only as one more means of redistribution of wealth.

Falsehood No. 2) The Obama administration is deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace.

Well, yeah, according to the Obama administration, but they just changed the way the numbers are added up in order to reach their record level. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, told the House Appropriations Committee in March that 368,000 people were deported last year, but he admitted under questioning that more than half of those were simply people turned around at the border, not real deportations of people who had been living illegally within our borders. Those have never been counted as deportations in the past, but the administration decided to use them because it made them look tough. But fake numbers are just par for the course. Consider the following.

Falsehood Nos. 3 & 4) Inflation and unemployment are both going down under President Obama!

No wonder! Under the current administration the numbers have been monkey-wrenched for both of these key economic metrics. Unemployment statistics no longer count “discouraged workers,” those people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months but have given up looking for work. Say what? Is there some universe in which those discouraged workers are not unemployed?

And when you hear any glowing reports about inflation you should be equally skeptical since the administration years ago removed food and gas prices out of the inflation index even though they are a huge component of middle- and lower-class consumer spending.

Falsehood No. 5) Manmade climate change is proven, dangerous, and reversible.

This is the doozy. It is amazing how many people just repeat the mantra as if it were proven fact, no matter how glaring the contradictions are.

Last Tuesday, the Inter Lake had a front-page Associated Press story that said “Antarctic ice sheet melting expected to raise sea levels.” Curious, I googled Antarctic ice and came up with a story posted the night before at headlined “Global Cooling: Antarctic Sea Ice Coverage Continues to Break Records.” Turns out that Antarctic sea ice coverage hit 3.5 million square miles in April — the largest on record. In addition, the story explained that sea ice levels were “significantly above” average for 16 consecutive months. That story got virtually no attention in the national media because it contradicted the “settled science.”

Speaking of settled science, it is easy to convince people it is settled when you control what gets published and what doesn’t. On Friday, it was revealed that an academic journal called Environmental Research Letters rejected a paper that questioned how sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The rejection said the report was “harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate skeptics media side.”

In other words, the report questioned climate change orthodoxy and therefore could not be published. This would worry people who had an open mind, but most people will never even hear about it just like they won’t hear about the record-setting Antarctic ice sheet.

And while on the topic of rising sea levels, I came across a fascinating scientific tidbit in an unrelated story about the discovery of a 12,000- to 13,000-year-old skeleton in Mexico. The remains were found under 120 feet of water, but the story noted that 13,000 years ago when the teen-age girl plunged to her death, sea level was 360 feet lower than it is now.

Gee, now that sounds like cataclysmic climate change — and it had nothing to do with mankind, except we had to adapt and change in order to survive in the newly warming world. You see, about 13,000 years ago we were in the last years of a lengthy ice age. As the ice melted, the sea level started rising. It rose most of those 360 feet in the years between about 12,000 B.C. and 4,000 B.C. But in the past 6,000 years, there has still been a very gradual increase in sea level that certainly predates the Industrial Age and greenhouse gases by many thousands of years. Between 1870 and 2004, the sea level supposedly rose about 8 inches. Since then, it may have risen another half inch or so, but according to one study, the rate of increase has slowed dramatically in the past 10 years during a period of dramatic increase in industrialization worldwide.

Global warming advocates are gung-ho to change all human activity in an effort to stop that half-inch rise in sea levels, but ask yourself this: How do they know that the current minimal rise in sea level is not just the vestigial effect of the warming trend that ended the ice age rather than the result of our puny human endeavors? And how do the rest of us know that the entire “real climate” — the one that can’t be manipulated by computer models and politicians — hasn’t disappeared, leaving nothing behind but a slip of paper that says global warming?

Too scary? Don’t blame me if the truth hurts; just close your eyes and it will go away.

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