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ro_in_motion's avatar

Have facts died? Here's the obituary.

Asked by ro_in_motion (2238 points ) April 20th, 2012

There was a brilliant piece in the Chicago Tribune, link, that puts Facts to death.

Here’s a paragraph: “To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists.”

Do Facts really matter anymore in the media and, thus, to the audience?

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17 Answers

marinelife's avatar

They matter to me.

digitalimpression's avatar

Interesting question. I don’t think we’re quite at the point where facts are dead.

Depending on the gullibility of the audience, the media can have a huge impact though.

ragingloli's avatar

I am not sure if West is a colossal liar and demagogue, or a colossal idiot who does not have the slightest clue what communism is.
I bet on him being both.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Ah, good reporting is thriving. I love it.

“Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.”

I will don black today in remembrance of brave facts whom I will sorely miss.

Keep_on_running's avatar

In some cases yes. It’s more prevalent, with the advent of social media, for opinions to be taken as facts. Gut reactions get more attention quicker and more easily than factual information probably ever will.

thorninmud's avatar

Sadly, yes. Classic example of failure to adapt to a rapidly changing environment, just like the dinosaur. Facts were famously stubborn and inflexible. That made them easy roadkill on the highway of ideology.

ratboy's avatar

I’m glad he’s gone—he was always underfoot; I can’t count the times I tripped over him.

Actually, nearly every consequential issue requires nearly everyone to appeal to one authority or another. Climate change, economic policy, alternative energy, etc. as issues are extremely complex. In each case, a consensus of experts in a array of fields is as close to truth as circumstances allow us to approach. The facts in these cases don’t speak for themselves, but require interpretation.

Perhaps that’s why we prefer to concern ourselves with what prominent people are doing with one another’s genitalia and other such drivel.

Blackberry's avatar

It’s scary that our government might actually not have some master conspiracy at play, but instead is simply full of idiots.

Bill1939's avatar

Orwell “1984” was merely premature by thirty years.

ETpro's avatar

The Allen Wests and Joseph McCarthys of the world ought to take a moment to study history before they launch into one of their demagogic diatribes. Look at how long Popes insisted the Earth was the center of the solar system. Look at how many humans believed that. Did it influence heliocentricity one iota? No.

Facts in fact always win because they don’t die; but lying, scheming humans always do die. Just ask Senator McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957). Of course to do so you must know how to communicate with the dead.

Ron_C's avatar

It appears to me that America is becoming dumber. Possible the fact that the ultra-religious have large families and the intelligent professionals limit their families to one or two kids. The result is sort of a reverse evolution. We are devolving to be stupid course and narrow minded. The only solution is for intelligent people to screw like minks. Unfortunately that is not likely and I expect the human race to split into two factions: the ultra-religious and conservative cave dwellers and the intelligent elite that actually run things, probably from a remote site.

Bill1939's avatar

Despite the fact that public education has “dumbed down” its curriculum, my involvement with our city’s performing arts theater has given me the opportunity to see children, from elementary school to high school, demonstrate intelligence, self discipline, and a willingness to work hard. These “small town” youths are a lot smarter than the kids I knew in high school 54 years ago.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C I worry about the same influence. I am sure the same is very widespread among the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. But like @Bill1939 I see a few glimmers of hope. There’s this.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro it’s nice that those kids in New York learned how to play chess. Knowledge of the game improves thinking in a strategic way and probably aids with other subjects. The problem is that these students are a very small minority. For every kid that becomes a chess master there are 10 million that graduate from high school but can’t write a coherent paragraph or balance a check book.

Bill1939's avatar

Our public education system was created to provide the minimum education necessary for a labor force that met the needs of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Rote learning was de rigueur, critical thinking was not. Only the few whose intelligence was greater than 97% of the population, and whose family’s financial means permitted them access to higher education, could avoid blue collar jobs and attain white collar employment. Those individuals below them but above the fiftieth percentile were trained to perform trades and those below the mean were destined for menial labor (not surprisingly, IQ tests were skewed in favor of Caucasians). Though I doubt that the ratio of one to ten million proffered by Ron_C s is likely, clearly such a “system” is worse than inadequate in the 21st century.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C How well I know. But every beacon light shines well beyond the confines of its lens.

@Bill1939 Well said. I hope we soon realize that a 19th century education is woefully inadequate for a 21st century world.

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