“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Here in the salad days of a new century, the idea that facts are somehow just subjective points of view appears to be on its way to becoming an accepted fact in its own right. Mr. Moynihan’s assertion seems almost quaint somehow, in an environment where every ear is tuned to its own inner music and opposing points of view are not tolerated, or at least not validated.
What to do about this? If I knew, I would tell you. As near as I can tell it’s not that there is a lack of facts, verifiable, actual, empirical, able-to-be-duplicated, researchable facts. It is that we insist on viewing these facts through lenses that distort and change what we see, turning objective reality into some form of personal belief. Once it’s been ensconced in a belief structure, formal or informal, the individual fact is no longer the story, except in how it can be fitted to what we already believe.
With oil drilling still front-and-center, and thoughts of more plastic in the ocean than fish coming closer to reality every day, facts are critically important. I don’t know what to say about your beliefs, except to say that I will continually measure them against those facts. Which is only right. The problems only really start when the process is turned around, and we start adjusting our facts to to match what we uncritically hold as truth.
If you really think about this, it can be a little uncomfortable. Good. It’s supposed to be.