Friday, October 21, 2016

Our “Post-fact” Age

Back in June I wrote a blog about “Obscurantism” and its tool, “Inuendo.”  This morning, enjoying my morning  coffee in Maine, a TV pundit’s comment seems to have gotten stuck in my head.  That comment was that we live in a “Post-fact” era, when facts do not matter, when history and truth does not matter.  What happened yesterday is re-stated to fit one’s particular “facts.”  Each person has their own set of facts and therefore, rejects any “facts” from an opposing point of view.  So, one group can say, “Trump won the debate,” and another group can say, “Clinton won the debate,” and each group rejects the other side’s “fact.”  This is done even when the “fact” is present on video tape!  Amazing!

I now add “Post-fact Age” to my previous writing in June. “Obscurantism is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known. There are two common historical and intellectual denotations to Obscurantism: (1) deliberately restricting knowledge — opposition to the dissemination of knowledge, and, (2) deliberate obscurity — an abstruse style (as in literature and art) characterized by deliberate vagueness.  An obscurantist is someone who actively opposes social reform and enlightenment, a type of anti-intellectual.”

Scientists the world over have affirmed “climate change” as a real and present danger, yet there are many who, in spite of the evidence, deny that it is happening.   The British pound crashed last Friday and the global markets went berserk, yet someone posted the following on FB:  “People are panicking over England voting to leave the EU. The truth of the matter is that there is no difference in the value of England's economy today than its value last week.”  Another example is the “talk” about mass killings being the work of Muslim terrorists, when most of the mass killings in the United States have been committed by non-Muslim citizens.  This is a fact—but a fact no one really wants to hear.  Obscurantism is the way we handle it—blaming terrorists responsible for one mass killing for all mass killings!

Innuendo (“an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one”) is not necessarily truth or fact, but it becomes a useful tool of obscurantism.  The post on FB about the EU economy goes on to say, “What we are seeing is a people who say that they want more freedom from government and bureaucrats…I hope the people of America start demanding the same thing.”  Oh, really?  The truth—the facts—about the UK referendum go a lot deeper than that!  The “push” to leave the EU may be more about immigrants, nativism, and a scream of defiance against history, than it is about “freedom from government and bureaucrats.”  And, here is a fact, the “government and the bureaucrats” will still be in business in the UK.

The prevalence of Obscurantism and Inuendo these days suggest that the “human intellect,” the ability to think things through and study the evidence available, has brought us to a “Post-Fact Age.”

Hopefully my grandchildren will figure it out!
Ethan's rendition of Mr. Trump

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