Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the death of the fact

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. weighs in on the death of fact-based knowledge, thanks in no small part to what has come to pass as "news" -- cable news, shout-out shows, blogs -- when everything has become "a partisan shouting match, back before it was permissible to ignore or deride as 'biased' anything that didn't support your worldview."

The story regards a column Pitt wrote about an African-American war hero that was disputed point by point by an online commenter named Ken Thompson, despite the fact --if you'll pardon the pun -- that said commenter's points were all factually wrong. From the story:

... the whole point here is that facts no longer mean what they once did. I suppose I could also ignore him. But you see, Ken Thompson is not just some isolated eccentric. No, he is the Zeitgeist personified.

To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe.

I submit that any people thus handicapped sow the seeds of their own decline; they respond to the world as they wish it were rather to the world as it is. That's the story of the Iraq war.

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