“Alternative Facts”   Leave a comment

Look, alternative facts are not facts.  They’re falsehoods.

–Chuck Todd, January 22, 2017

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If I wanted alternative facts, I would use a ouija board.

–Joe Scarborough, January 23, 2017

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I respect objective reality.  In that sense I am a modernist in the Enlightenment sense of the term.  (I am also a modernist in the theological sense of the term, by the way.)  As John Adams famously argued,

Facts are stubborn things.

I cling to objective reality stubbornly.  As a teacher of history I cling to the objective reality of the past tenaciously.  Whenever I get a detail wrong  and realize it, I admit my error and strive never to repeat it.  I hold my students to the simple standard of being objectively accurate.  The penalty for inaccuracy is a grade lower than it would have been otherwise.

Facts are stubborn things.

With regard to certain current events I conclude that Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway are either postmodernists, easy liars, or people who have difficulty telling the difference between accurate and inaccurate statements.  I lack sufficient information to arrive at a definitive statement at this time.  I am certain, however, that, in the realm of mathematics, some numbers are of greater value than others. That is an accurate statement.

Facts are stubborn things.

I keep in mind the difference between a lie and an accidental falsehood.  A lie is an intentional deception; motivation marks the difference between a lie and a merely inaccurate statement.  Either way, an inaccurate statement, regardless of whether it is a lie or an accidental falsehood, is false.  And that is not an “alternative fact,” for there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.”

Facts are stubborn things.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

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APPENDIX

In light of today’s development, in which Spicer expressed his willingness to “disagree with the facts” yet, oddly enough, not to lie (an oxymoron), I conclude that he is a liar.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great empiricist noted, each person is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.

KRT

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