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View Diary: "A striking lack of recollection" (147 comments)

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  •  The more I think about it (0+ / 0-)

    the more I believe that official use of the word "facts" as if it meant "assertions" is an extremely very serious matter and must be called out and reversed here and everywhere it may occur.

    It is not just amusing, ironic, individually outrageous. This apparently simple matter of word use constitutes a political attack on the democracy.

    If this usage became accepted, we would thereby lose a critical tool we use daily for thinking and talking about the world and human relations.

    If there is no difference between facts and assertions, every election, every trial, every scientific experient, becomes a mere contest of manipulation of perception. And everyone is deprived of a key tool for grasping and managing reality -- the ability to question and test assertions.

    What if you had difficulty figuring out how to explain to a neighbor that someone in power was not telling the truth, because the words were not there? Because the meanings of words had deteriorated to the point that it was difficult to impossible even to explain this concept?

    This is exactly the ultimate purpose of Newspeak in George Orwell's fictional "1984" -- to make political dissent impossible because the concepts and lanuage would not exist to express it. To this end in Orwell's imagined world, words were systemically repurposed, retired, or drained of meaning.

    There may be other ways today to talk about truth and falsehood, without resporting to the word "fact" -- but every language tool we lose will make this harder, and we should not lose even one.

    Official misuse of words often means the misuse creeps sooner or later into journalism and then daily speech. Soon, we'll have to say "real facts" when we want to distinguish them from "my facts" and "your facts." ("You are entitled to your facts, and I am entitled to mine.") The whole idea of an objective reality, to which we are all ultimately subject, becomes weakened.

    This misuse of the word "facts" therefore rings huge alarm bells, and is no minor matter. We should be all over those responsible. It is time for our elected representatives to take responsibility and stand up for the facts.

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