Monday, 5 August 2019
It's a fact
Facts; tricky buggers, aren’t they? Because what are facts when we are talking not about what they describe, but what they imply? And all facts are not equal: while the number of feet in a mile, or how many buns in a baker’s dozen are undebatable certainties, other fact-like nuggets, especially statistics, are often used to illustrate contrary positions in an argument. And while I naturally scoff at supposed evidence for your aberrant beliefs, I gleefully embrace equally shaky verification that my god is bigger than your god. I am no better than you.
Also to be taken into account is the plethora of fake facts, mistaken facts, incomplete facts, wishful thinking and downright fraud perpetrated in the name of fact and its unhappy bedfellow, truth. Your truth isn’t the same as mine and while mine may – I believe – be grounded in experiential events, your truth may be derived from beliefs which have little or no facts to substantiate them. I cite, as I often do, the absolute fact that not one piece of ‘evidence’ has ever proved the existence of god. You, naturally, counter that no evidence has been offered for his/her/its non-existence. I quote the scientific method, you rely on faith. I have faith in the scientific method… and so it goes.
When arguments are exhausted and the brick wall you have been banging your head against refuses to yield you, we – all of us – resort to other explanations. The other side has been influenced by dark forces, fallen for propaganda, been taken in by the elites who are feeding them well-rehearsed soundbites, attack rhetoric, posing as objective truths. Then, when the enemy captures those positions and turns the same words against us, we fall back, regroup and find some different words. The events have not changed and the full facts are never known – even when a think tank calls itself ‘full fact’ – but our perceptions shift. All the time.
How often have you been ‘Indecisive Dave’ watching a debate as if it were a tennis match, your head swivelling from left-to-right and back again as you nod and agree with each participant in turn. And then, when no convincing thesis wins the day, reverting to the comfort of your original position. It is little wonder, then, that mankind has embraced the frankly ridiculous notion of a magic man – or woman - in the sky who somehow orders everything so that the most deserving, the most devout, will see their reward in the afterlife.
Well, bollocks to that; I want my loot now. And so do you. Which is why the ‘facts’ about ‘the elite’ are so deliciously, egregiously deceitful. The elite, or ‘the elites’ are manipulating your every thought in order to make you slaves to the market economy? Oh, come on, people. If anything the manipulation is being done – deliberately or in ignorance – by those who use envy and a sense of injustice in the guise – deliberately or in ignorance of equality – to mobilise sentiment against those who have succeeded. Or maybe you are just manipulating yourself?
Which facts do you prefer?
I’m not yet a citizen of a post-fact world and I have a great deal of time for evidential investigation, but I am also hyper cynical and assume that ‘your’ facts are tainted. In my more self-aware moments I admit that the same applies to mine, but I just don’t see how blaming society’s ills and especially individual difficulties on those who have managed to buck the trend and make something of themselves is helping. Instead of trying to bring down the successful maybe, just maybe, we should be copying them. At the very least we could start trying to think for ourselves and not be so easily led by pipers playing our favourite tunes.