Critical Thinking about Facts
From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #70
October 25, 2021
After writing about Media Ethics (#69) last week and writing about “facts,” I decided that I would do some critical thinking about facts. As I got into the process, I discovered that it is a lot harder than I suspected. Like most people, I start from the false premise that a fact is empirical data. Even the dictionary makes this confusion: “Fact: Information presented as objectively real; something having real, demonstratable existence; a thing that has been done.” From Latin facere “to do.”
Now facts are funny things. Not funny as in “ha ha” or in laughing out-loud, but funny in a strange, weird, and amazing way. They are funny in that we think of them as so real and solid, yet that is just not the case. Thinking critically about facts, in fact, takes us into a realm where there is a lot of room for wonderment and curiosity.