Just the Facts

Posted on May 17, 2013 by Submitted

Editor:I have been working on how to finesse the notion that there are “facts” with the inescapable reality that no one can sidestep being biased and skewing information one way or another.

Global warming is a perfect example of how facts are manipulated to support a prior agenda. How is it that “experts” disagree on a baseline set of facts? The fact is, almost all human issues get down to primary, unprovable assumptions about the nature of reality, society, what is important and what constitutes a benefit and to whom? Things end up being a matter of preference vs. fact.

Global warming is a great example here because the very people who are supposed to know actual, objective facts, hard scientists in physics, math and chemistry, these guys say one thing and then others, with a fairly transparent political/ religious agenda, produce an alternate narrative masquerading as hard science. If you can’t win, confuse them. In all arguments then, baseline facts become obfuscated and partially cited so as to align and be congruent with a priori assumptions and belief systems. As Einstein said. “it is the theory that decides what we can observe.” Much as we would like, facts don’t really matter as there is no way to access them in a universally unbiased way. To boot, reasoned, logical arguments are not as effective poltically as base, rally the troops emotional appeals.

When all facts are disputed and there is no common arbiter, everything becomes like religion, a matter of faith, a matter of lobbying and message shaping, even outright lies and intentional falsehoods. Practically speaking then, there are no facts at all, yet everyone claims to have them! No wonder people get steamed at each other. Winning is the goal, not truth. The logical extension here is eternal war, just like all of history, imagine that.

As the hotel initiative process unfolds, keep an eye on the types of arguments and the tone people use and decide for yourself the actual strength of the points being made, from all sides. What facts are left out? What qualifies as a fact? It is fun to watch how people try to sell you something! You’ll know arguments lack internal strength if you see: personal attacks, shrill tone, anger, volume, broken-record repetition, sarcasm and unsupported negative assertions. You’ll know you’re being sold by: over-generalization, confusion of facts and opinion, one-sided listing of facts and stereotyped automatic pilot partisan narratives. Strong arguments will addresses conflicting claims and issues head on and not merely condemn them.

In the end, Sonoma voters won’t be buying any facts anyway, they’ll be for or against a narrative about how they want the future of Sonoma to be.

Fred Allebach