Posted by: mutantpoodle | June 19, 2007

Facts Say the Darndest Things

get_the_facts_clipart“Reality has a well known liberal bias,” said Stephen Colbert in his merciless skewering of President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, an event so traumatic for all the cozy denizens of Washington, DC, that it took the Rich Little, the emcee equivalent of dry toast, to clear the town’s collective palate.

But I digress.

The answer, when reality runs counter to your deeply held but unprovable (or proved incorrect) beliefs, is to change the facts. And so it was that Andy Schlafly, son of Phyllis, created Conservapedia. Wikipedia, it seems, is just too dang liberal, and we wouldn’t want our home-schooled kids bump into anything that might make them question, well, anything.

Today, Conservapedia got a shout out from the LA Times, which it promptly touted on its home page. “The LA Times praised our entries on the tuba, Claude Monet, the nation of Latvia, Robin Hood, polygons, and The Renaissance,” it bragged.

Left out was the Times’s more skeptical view of the Conservapedia “unbiased” article on Hillary Clinton, who “may suffer from a psychological condition that would raise questions about her fitness for office.” That one is, notes the Times dryly, missing a footnote.

And how do they look at their heroes?

“George W. Bush is a member of the United Methodist Church, and many people feel that George W. Bush’s faith is sincere and profound,” and the liberal media “often neglect to report the many aspects of the economy that Bush has improved. For example, during his term Exxon Mobil has posted the largest profit of any company in a single year, and executive salaries have greatly increased as well.”

Now, some might say that Exxon/Mobil’s profitability is not the most broad-ranging economic bellweather, and I’m sure that the family of four trying to eat on $25/week is pleased that so many executives are able to buy those heretofore unattainable second homes in Aspen, but they’re probably, like me, just miserable Marxists blogging in their pajamas. (For the record, I am wearing shorts and a long-sleeved t-shirt: not the height of fashion, but I did, in fact, get out of the house this morning.) And does thinking that George Bush’s faith, and how he acts on it, is profoundly scary make me one of the “many people” cited in the sentence above?

Now, Andy Schlafly is entitled to say anything he thinks wherever he wants to – that’s a right he was born into in this country, and he should go wild.

He’s not entitled, in my opinion, to promote as fact the claim that “there is an abundance of scientific arguments in addition to geology showing the earth and universe are both approximately 6,000 years in age.” Claiming a fraud as fact and peddling it to home-schooled children dooms them to a life of scientific ignorance, which isn’t just a shame for them that their ignorance on the development of life on earth will be so profound, but it’s a problem for all of us, because these will be the future Global climate change skeptics who, ignorant of the scientific method, will resist needed change in order to save future generations – including theirs.

Reality takes a beating on a daily basis in this country – from Joe Lieberman’s repeated assurances that things are getting better in Iraq, to George Bush’s on-camera denials of things he has said, also on camera, mere months previous, to, well, almost anything on Fox News.

People love to complain about the “tone” in the left blogosphere – we’re, rude, nasty bullies who mock all those nicely dressed conservatives with whom we disagree. (I won’t talk about what they say about us – that’s for another day.)

But the real problem is that the left isn’t willing to compromise on facts, because no real debate can start without a common set of assumptions. And if people will deny facts that are inconvenient, then they should be mocked and ridiculed. These days, of course, they get regular slots on Sunday talk shows.

Until we stop treating falsehoods as facts, until those who make stuff up to support their otherwise untenable positions are called on it and mocked out of the public sphere of debate, those of us who like living in reality will be fighting this battle. And we need to be full-throated about it. If someone is making it up, say so. If someone is lying, say so. As for the media, this goes for you, too – sadly, the past six years have proven that assertions from those on the right are all too often in complete opposition to the truth.

It’s not liberal bias to say so.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” said Daniel Patrick Moynihan many years ago. He died before he could see that simple and seemingly unassailable notion turned on it’s head.


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