RIP Facts

#1
In the Chicago Tribune Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012: In memoriam: After years of health problems, Facts has finally died. By Rex W. Huppke
A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world's most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.

But for many, Facts' most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child's certainty of its mother's love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.

Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people's lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: "Facts are to the mind what food is to the body."

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 theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.

Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.

"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."

Facts was born in ancient Greece, the brainchild of famed philosopher Aristotle. Poovey said that in its youth, Facts was viewed as "universal principles that everybody agrees on" or "shared assumptions."

But in the late 16th century, English philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon took Facts under his wing and began to develop a new way of thinking.

"There was a shift of the word 'fact' to refer to empirical observations," Poovey said.

Facts became concrete observations based on evidence. It was growing up.

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power.

But those halcyon days would not last.

People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.

"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."

Though weakened, Facts managed to persevere through the last two decades, despite historic setbacks that included President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, the justification forPresidentGeorge W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the debate over President Barack Obama's American citizenship.

Facts was wounded repeatedly throughout the recent GOP primary campaign, near fatally when Michele Bachmann claimed a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease causes mental retardation. In December, Facts was briefly hospitalized after MSNBC's erroneous report that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign was using an expression once used by the Ku Klux Klan.

But friends and relatives of Facts said Rep. West's claim that dozens of Democratic politicians are communists was simply too much for the aging concept to overcome.

As the world mourned Wednesday, some were unwilling to believe Facts was actually gone.

Gary Alan Fine, the John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, said: "Facts aren't dead. If anything, there are too many of them out there. There has been a population explosion."

Fine pointed to one of Facts' greatest battles, the debate over global warming.

"There are all kinds of studies out there," he said. "There is more than enough information to make any case you want to make. There may be a preponderance of evidence and there are communities that decide something is a fact, but there are enough facts that people who are opposed to that claim have their own facts to rely on."

To some, Fine's insistence on Facts' survival may seem reminiscent of the belief that rock stars like Jim Morrison are still alive.

"How do I know if Jim Morrison is dead?" Fine asked. "How do I know he's dead except that somebody told me that?"

Poovey, however, who knew Facts as well as anyone, said Facts' demise is undoubtedly factual.

"American society has lost confidence that there's a single alternative," she said. "Anybody can express an opinion on a blog or any other outlet and there's no system of verification or double-checking, you just say whatever you want to and it gets magnified. It's just kind of a bizarre world in which one person's opinion counts as much as anybody else's."

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

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.
Facts was later reported to be alive well and living in Anders Breiviks mentalist blog posts.
 
#3
...
The Mail and so many others will be dancing on poor old facts grave...

RIP old chum...
Unfortunately the Guardian, NYT and Huff Po sent flowers as well.
 
#4
Whilst amusing, this article is predicated upon an incorrect supposition, that Facts can be destroyed by Lies, Assumptions, Opinions, or any other thing that isn't completely and utterly true. Facts would not exist without the various forms of fiction that we have, as everything would just be 'stuff', though we would have a lot less 'stuff'. And there would be far fewer books, hardly any newspapers, no politicians...
 
#6
A lie not challenged becomes the truth.
Unfortunately the USA's left leaning media rarely challenges Obama's Democratic Party spin, duplicity and contempt for the Constitution.
And Allen West? Well unlike the vast majority of his sneering detractors he has actually served his country and held down a real job. I think he underestimated!
 
#7
Reminds me of a film I watched a few weeks back.

Two girls are arguing in a classroom over reports that a band helped save people from a fire at one of their gigs.

1st girl: "I was there, they didnt lift a finger to help and were drinking in the parking lot."

2nd girl: "Yes they did, they pulled people out of the burning building. It says so on Wikipedia!!"
 
#8
A lie not challenged becomes the truth.
Unfortunately the USA's left leaning media rarely challenges Obama's Democratic Party spin, duplicity and contempt for the Constitution.
And Allen West? Well unlike the vast majority of his sneering detractors he has actually served his country and held down a real job. I think he underestimated!
Misunderestimated even!
 
#10
Not Colonel West old chum.
That's the same dusky fella who equates the creation of the Fed with Marxism. Both Marx and the classically liberal laissez-faire founders of the Bank of England would find this position rather perplexing. Central banking is one of the bedrocks of not just modern capitalism but Imperial war fighting, banking really isn't an architectural feature of Marxist political systems.

Now you could say he was an ignoramus or lying but West is clearly an intelligent man. He knows the Congressional Progressive Caucus he calls "Communist" is mostly funded by Wall St, big oil and the Israel lobby just like he is and these wealthy and privileged chaps serve those interests just as slavishly as he does, where they differ is mostly on inane culture war issues and who benefits from the tax code and pork not on the workers ownership of the means of production, the members off the CPC would run screaming in terror at such an idea. These are people who think single payer healthcare is a radical idea for feck's sake.

He is in fact speaking in the loaded language of propaganda knowing his base really no longer cares about facts but enjoys having its buttons pressed and liberal long ago lost its Reagan-era sting as an insult. Let's thank him for his service but perhaps not too objective historical truth. Civic discourse would be greatly improved if rather than abusing truth we could only go back to simply calling political opponents cnuts, they probably are after all.
 
#11
Reminds me of a film I watched a few weeks back.

Two girls are arguing in a classroom over reports that a band helped save people from a fire at one of their gigs.

1st girl: "I was there, they didnt lift a finger to help and were drinking in the parking lot."

2nd girl: "Yes they did, they pulled people out of the burning building. It says so on Wikipedia!!"
See signature block......
It's irony, honest!
 
#12
A lie not challenged becomes the truth.
Unfortunately the USA's left leaning media rarely challenges Obama's Democratic Party spin, duplicity and contempt for the Constitution.
And Allen West? Well unlike the vast majority of his sneering detractors he has actually served his country and held down a real job. I think he underestimated!
This might be an appropriate thread to stick in a quotation from one of Mr Pratchett's excellent novels: "A lie can run around the world before the truth has got its boots on".
 
#13
Course none of this is new.

There is a story about LBJ in his first political race in Texas he was losing to a popular local farmer. LBJ suggests to his campaign team they put about the rumor that his opponent is fond of having sex with his livestock. His appalled campaign immediately tell him they can't do that, to which LBJ replies "Why not? Let the pig ****** deny it!". Shrewd man LBJ.
 
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