Fact (n) 1) reality, actuality, 2) something known to exist or to have happened, 3) something said to be true
(Satire Alert: some content is intended to amuse)
After finishing my extended series of blogs on Paul’s ministry last weekend, I wondered what else I would write about. Maybe I would take a blog sabbatical. Maybe I would have blogger’s-block… Ha, ha, ha. Silly idea.
No the silly idea was when I heard that the president Trump’s advisor, Kellyanne Conway, had made up a new concept on the Sunday morning talking-heads newspeak circuit: Alternative Facts. What a great idea. Thus, today, I have formed a new administrative Department, of which I will appointment myself as nepotistic Cabinet Minister.
Thus begins the Department of Alternative Facts.
Facts are data points. Information that can be verified. Facts should not be able to be disputed. If alternative facts exist, then the point is not whether the data is real or fraudulent, but whether two people are looking at different data sets.
For example, Ms. Conway’s comment about alternative facts came in a discussion about the number of people attending president Trump’s inauguration versus the number of people attending the Women’s March the day after. She was defending her boss’s assertion that a million and-a-half people attended his inauguration versus somewhere around half-a-million attended the march (both estimates have grown in estimation over the week as different methods of counting and geographic boundaries, or lack thereof, have come into play).
First, crowd estimates are merely estimates, not factual head counts. But, later Ms. Conway and president Trump clarified that they were also counting television viewers in the USA… oh, we meant worldwide. It appears there are alternative facts to the alternative facts.
For a fact to be a fact, one must clarify whether one is discussing apples or oranges, or did she say Red Delicious MAGA apples versus tart Granny Smiths (you know all those marchers were a bunch of snippy ERA women who just can’t give up * ). Or maybe, she meant juicy Valencia oranges versus Navels (as those marchers are doing nothing more than contemplating their own). If one tosses out a vague facetious point, we will be more distracted and confused that informed.
( * In case you are new to my blog, I write this as satire of Trump’s belittling attitude toward those who do not agree with him. Being at the Women’s March, I was impressed with the range of ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and agendas for attending. It was hardly “one variety of apple”)
On the other hand, we can look at the D.C. regional subway system’s ridership on Friday and Saturday by 11 a.m, we have two facts to compare. Friday, Metro recorded 193,000 riders. On Saturday, Metro recorded 275,000 riders.
Then, count the number of buses which requested permits for parking on each day: Friday 200 buses, Saturday 1,200. Multiply that by an estimate of how many riders might have been on those buses.
Look high angle views of the Mall to see how much of the space was filled with little red or pink hats at each event.
Keep looking for comparable data points. This supports estimates.
This leads us to another issue which I shall endeavor to illuminate in my newly minted position of administrator of the Dept. of Alternative Facts: our beliefs influence what facts we seek and how we interpret these facts.
Follow along, plug your ears, or roll your eyes. All options are warranted by today’s brave new world.
“Knowleges will always govern ignorance.” — James Madison