Toward Truthiness: "After the Fact"
March 17, 2016 8:37 PM Subscribe
"The era of the fact is coming to an end: the place once held by 'facts' is being taken over by 'data.'...No matter the bigness of the data, the vastness of the Web, the freeness of speech, nothing could be less well settled in the twenty-first century than whether people know what they know from faith or from facts, or whether anything, in the end, can really be said to be fully proved." Jill Lepore's essay for The New Yorker, "After the Fact," looks at the current state of American politics as a symptom of a bigger question: Whose reality is it, anyway?
In his 2012 book, “In Praise of Reason,” [Michael P.] Lynch identified three sources of skepticism about reason: the suspicion that all reasoning is rationalization, the idea that science is just another faith, and the notion that objectivity is an illusion. These ideas have a specific intellectual history, and none of them are on the wane. Their consequences, he believes, are dire: “Without a common background of standards against which we measure what counts as a reliable source of information, or a reliable method of inquiry, and what doesn’t, we won’t be able to agree on the facts, let alone values. Indeed, this is precisely the situation we seem to be headed toward in the United States.” Hence, truthiness.And, perhaps, a deep alteration in America's "culture of fact."
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