Ronni and Brittany talk about the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes and how this relates to the abilty to question what’s real in today’s world.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Ronnie: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Ronnie.

Ronnie: So, today I kind of wanna tell a little story.

Brittany: I love stories. In fact, we talk a lot here about how I love storytelling so much because I think It’s Oh, really, the test way to teach a lesson. So I’m excited for story time.

Ronnie: You may have heard the story before, but, have you ever heard of the story, the Emperor’s New Clothes? It’s folks.

Brittany: Yeah, it’s not in years, though. I haven’t heard it. Since I was a little kid, so I’m excited to hear it again.

Ronnie: Well, it’s funny. So before I tell you the story, at the beginning of, all the coronavirus stuff happening, I remember making a reference online saying something about, oh, it feels like we’re living the emperor’s new clothes, everything that’s happening. It feels like that story. That’s the story you should read. And I made mentions of it a few times later. And then just a couple of months ago, my mom sent me this picture that she had of me when I was maybe two years old, and she was reading me The Emperor’s New Clothes. And so she was reading me the book, and I thought it was hilarious that apparently, that’s why the story stuck in my head so well is because I must have read it a lot when I was a child and then actually my mom went and looked up the book on eBay or something, and sent in me the actual edition of this old book, you know?

Brittany: Oh, that’s so sweet. I love that.

Ronnie: No, if, I almost do, I’m actually holding it in my hands right now. So I grabbed it. I know you can’t see it, but I feel as though if we were on Zoom, I would show everyone the pictures and read loud . But, so the Emperor’s New Clothes, I’ll tell you the story in case any of our listeners also have not heard this story. But it was originally written by, Hans Christian Anderson. So it’s a nice folk story. And here’s how it goes. So there was a rich emperor, and he was really vain, and he liked to wear nice clothes and spend lots of money on them. Well, two swindlers, or two tricksters, you could call them. They learned that the emperor liked spending lots of money. So they had an idea and they decided they were gonna trick him out of money. So they came to him and said, hello, emperor. We are the finest dressmakers in all the land, and we will make you the most beautiful clothes you have ever seen, but it will cost lots and lots and lots and lots of money. And the emperor said, oh, I want the best clothes in all the world. I will give you all this money. So anyways, the tricksters are being paid to make some clothes, but every time the emperor goes to check on them making clothes, he looks in on them. And he doesn’t actually see any clothes. He doesn’t see any fabric being woven on the loom. He doesn’t see anything being sewn, but the tricksters tell him every time that oh, we’re working on it be ready soon. And the emperor keeps giving them money. And this goes on for a while. Well, finally, the big day comes and the tricksters say, emperor, we have your clothes. They’re ready, let’s put them on. And so they bring him the clothes that they made. Now the emperor at first is kind of confused because he doesn’t see any clothes at all, and he does not know what they’re talking about. But before the emperor can say anything, the tricksters say, these clothes are the finest clothes ever made. And there’s a special secret to them. Only wise and smart people are able to see these clothes. People who are fools or not smart, they can’t see them. Well, the emperor who couldn’t actually see the clothes, but of course was not going to admit that because then he would look like he was not smart. And he’s the emperor. He has to be the smartest. So he starts gushing over how amazing and beautiful these clothes are, and, how they’re the most luxurious clothes he’s ever seen. And, you know, he puts them on or pretends just to put them on, you know, kind of just the, the gestures of putting on his clothes and it’s twirling around and talking about them. And the swindlers are complimenting him on how amazing he looks. And they say, you know what you should do? You should go and walk through your town or your countryside and show everybody how amazing your clothes are. So the emperor, who of course is actually only in his underwear, but wants to believe that he has on these clothes, starts walking around.

Brittany: I feel like Joe Biden would fall for this. I’m just saying.

Ronnie: Yeah. I mean, I actually think a lot of people might fall for this. I would’ve never thought that before the past couple of years. And now I’m like, I dunno. I trust in people’s change. So we have the emperor, and he is parading around town in nothing but his underwear, but acting as though he has some, magnificent clothes. All the townspeople at first are a little confused because he’s wandering around in his underwear, but he is doing it so confidently. And Emperor says something to his people look at my fine clothes. Something about if you know, the fi smart people can see it. If you can’t see it, then it means you’re a fool. Blah, blah, blah. He’s super proud of his clothes and he walks to town. And so now all the townspeople who also can’t see his clothes, but they don’t want to make fun of the emperor. They don’t want to get in trouble for laughing at the Emperor. They are all like, oh, yes, it’s wonderful. Plus they’re not sure if everyone else around them can’t actually see the clothes. So they don’t want to look like the fool. They don’t want to look as though they are not smart, or something’s wrong with them. So everyone plays along, and the emperor makes it all the way through town. Everybody’s seeing him in his underwear until the very end. This one little girl yells out, why doesn’t the emperor have any clothes on? And as soon as she asked that, everyone else realized, oh, wait, someone else can tell that he’s not wearing any clothes. And then the emperor himself began to realize, oh, wait, I’ve just paraded this entire town and I’m not actually wearing any clothes. Like I thought. And so everyone laughs at him and he’s fully embarrassed, and then he goes home, and then he finds out the swindlers took all his money. And anyway, that’s the story. Did you like my retelling?

Brittany: I loved the retelling, and I think you’re right. It’s sad to say this, but I think that would happen. I think that is something that is plausible today. Maybe not into that regard, right? But, it’s funny, the parallels to today, if you wanna kind of discuss a little bit about how you think we’re like that today.

Ronnie: Yeah. So, I always go back to talking about the Coronavirus time only because of my.

Brittany: I mean, it’s, yeah, it’s got so many I know things in there.

Ronnie: But I think for myself and being in Los Angeles at this time, and that it was this big profound thing for me, I tie so much of it back to that experience in my life. But during that time, one of the things that was interesting is I, early on started researching very heavily about, not just coronavirus, but you know, what actual infection rates and fatality rates were. And I remember looking at very early data that came out. Did you ever hear of the princess cruise line data that came out at the beginning of the Coronavirus?

Brittany: You mean like, ’cause I know that was like where the first outbreak happened. Yeah.

Ronnie: But what was so interesting about it is that I mean, it was a perfect experiment of having an outbreak on a cruise ship that was self-contained. And so you could study it and study the transmission rates and the case rates and the fatality rates from there. So, looking at that data early on, it was determined that the infection rates and the fatality rates that were being reported in the media were way overblown. And that COVID was not as transmissible as it was being reported. And I remember finding that data and finding a few scientists who were speaking on that data. There were a few names, these are from big universities like Stanford, and yet nothing that they were reporting was being taken seriously by anyone. And I thought that was really strange. And I thought it was strange when I was trying to share this information that I was being called names or, you know, dumb or, that I was, the implication was that I was not smart because I was not following the approved smart people. And so the parallels to this story of Emperor’s New Clothes was playing out in real life, which is people are so afraid of not looking smart, especially if they’ve built up a career and they’re working in an academic field, or they’re working in some field that commands respect and that they’re supposed to look smart. There’s such a fear that if they don’t conform to what gives the appearance of being smart, that they are not smart. And so I saw that so many places and it was really, really profound how it played out.

Brittany: No, and I think we’re seeing that with so many things. Like if they can turn the tide on you if they say something, it’s like in 1984, there’s this, we’ve always been at war with East, what is it?

Ronnie: East Asia.

Brittany: With East Asia. And it’s kind of like, basically the government can just say things. And if you don’t, if everyone goes along with it. Because if they don’t go along with it, they almost feel like they’re the ones that are silly. Right? We saw that little masks. So if we don’t wear masks, then wear, you know, everybody else is wearing masks, so therefore I must wear a mask. And if somebody stands up and says like, Hey, maybe these aren’t really doing anything, and then, you know, then it’s like, oh, that person’s crazy. We went through so many, it’s just, the world has gone nuts. And I do feel, though I do feel like COVID, has taught us some things, and that is, I hope at least that even people who may have trusted the government in the beginning are now realizing how ridiculous the whole thing was. And I really do believe that. I think we’ve gotten to a point where it’s kind of like, okay, maybe during the next crisis we’re not gonna be so compliant, you know, at least I hope so.

Ronnie: I think there’s a lot of people who have realized that the emperor is not wearing clothes. But what is interesting is that there’s still a lot of people who, I think because they’ve spent so much time convincing themselves that the emperor is wearing clothes, they would rather, they would rather stick to their story even though it’s wrong, even though they know it’s wrong, because that they don’t wanna feel as though they ever made a mistake at the beginning. And so my hope is that we can convince enough people that we can admit when we were wrong. And if we realize that a previously held belief is wrong, it is okay to recognize that something is different. You don’t have to stick to whatever your old belief is because you don’t wanna look dumb.

Brittany: No. Yep. And I think some of, I honestly, I think one of the, I have so much more respect for people when they say simple as like, I don’t know, or maybe I was wrong. There’s nothing more admirable, I think, than somebody who can admit that. That’s what I think. Anyway.

Ronnie: Yeah. So hopefully more and more people are, we’ll get back to a place in which people are willing to admit that there have been times in which they’ve been wronged or that they’ve changed their mind.

Brittany: I think we’re getting there, I hope, anyway. Well, Ronnie, any closing thoughts?

Ronnie: no, I think that is my closing thoughts. I have. Yeah.

Brittany: That is great.

Ronnie: Have I always had hope? So my hope is that you know, more people will be willing to question and confront the truth even if it makes them look unpopular in the moment.

Brittany: I love that. And I love the part about hope. ’cause I think hope is very, very important. Well guys we will wrap it up there, but again, please don’t forget to subscribe and share the podcast, and we will be back with another episode next time. So until then, we will talk to you later. Bye, guys.

Ronnie: Bye.