My search for truth in the post-truth era took a turn for the better (or should that be the worse?) the other day. An up-and-coming client introduced the concept of Alternative Facts. You being so much younger than me are probably well acquainted with this concept. You may even understand it. In case you don’t I shall try to explain it as I see it. By definition, I may, as we used to say, get “the wrong end of the stick”. What is certain is that I shall get stick, which is fine by me. I am not yet sick of stick.
Not everything that happens in life is pleasing to us. Our insecurities plead for reassurance, which comes mainly from being right. We want to be right in our beliefs above all else but also right in our forecasts and judgments, right in our standards. I have a clever friend whose response to almost anything anyone says is a long-drawn-out “Right!” It is most reassuring and charms the birds from the trees. As a sales technique I commend it. As a statement of fact (the ‘old’ fact that is) there are, I admit, times when it is somehow ‘Alternative’.
The rightness of our beliefs is particularly interesting since belief is only possible if there is doubt. (First chunk of stick on the way already, I am sure.) But certainty of belief was always commended when I was a child. “A Firm Belief” was such an achievement that it could only possibly be a gift. No mortal was capable of acquiring a Firm Belief or, more importantly, of hanging on to it. The value of the belief was more in its rightness than in its substance.
Further examination showed me that others had equally firm, often contradictory, beliefs. I had only two options. Either I could condemn them as wrong – difficult to do as they were only beliefs – or I could see them as Alternative Beliefs, which is what I chose to do. Perhaps they were even Alternative Firm Beliefs. After all, if my beliefs were Firm why should not Alternative Beliefs be equally Firm?
Belief being top of the totem pole it seems wholly logical that if you can have Alternative Firm Beliefs you can equally well have Alternative Facts. So, instead of being stuck with the boring truth (the ‘old’ truth that is) you can have several versions of it from which to choose. This turns out to be the case and, moreover, the best source of these Alternative Facts is online and free. If you are of a creative turn of mind you can even add to them. Think of yourself as a source of Alternative Facts. That puts you at the head of the pack, doesn’t it?
To be honest I am still puzzling about one dilemma that this poses. If an Alternative Fact – perhaps that it is NOT raining – turns out to be untrue (as we used to call it) won’t we get very wet because of not taking an umbrella?
Please let me have your Alternative Answers as soon as possible.
I am most anxious to get at the Alternative Truth.