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Posts Tagged ‘facts’

Today there’s a lovely little piece by Rex W. Huppke in the Chicago Tribune on the life and death of facts.

That’s right, facts are dead.

A favorite quote from the obituary:

“It’s very depressing,” said Mary Poovey, a professor of English at New York University and author of A History of the Modern Fact. “I think the thing Americans ought to miss most about facts is the lack of agreement that there are facts. This means we will never reach consensus about anything. Tax policies, presidential candidates. We’ll never agree on anything.”

I often tell my students that to have critical discussions that aren’t aimed either at truth or at consensus is like having archery without targets. Nice to see I’m not the only one who will miss Facts (and probably duck more frequently) now that they’re gone.  Ah, but how did facts die, you ask?  Poovey again:

“There was an erosion of any kind of collective sense of what’s true or how you would go about verifying any truth claims,” Poovey said. “Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the ‘news’ an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact.”

Of course, the article goes on to point out, many people won’t believe that facts are dead.  This makes them something like the people who think that Elvis is alive and walking among us, or that Tupac Shakur survived his 1996 shooting.  Jeez. As if being a philosophy prof wasn’t challenging enough already…

The op-ed is funny–but only in that way that makes you glance nervously around the room with a look in your eyes that says “We’re all laughing because this is preposterous, right? Right?”

I’d write more on this, but I think I just saw the flash of sequins out of the corner of my eye. I’m gonna go check it out. Just to be sure.

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