Do Not Block the Way of Inquiry
Howard Johnson

Hmm, your juxtaposition of CS Peirce’s motto—“do not block the way of inquiry”—and the term “alt-fact” has caused me to realize another reason why alt-facts bother me so much.

It’d be one thing if alt-facts implied: “Hey, your worldview and beliefs are based on a set of facts which you believe are evident and well-established, but those facts aren’t nearly as well-established as you might think. You may be shocked to learn that I, and many others, believe in an entirely different set of facts—and if you want to engage with me, you’ll need to make some effort to understand and consider my facts, too.” In this scenario, raising the existence of alt-facts invites inquiry and discourse.

But, no. Most of the time when alt-facts are raised, it’s to shutdown inquiry and discourse. The implication is: “Don’t even try to engage with me. If you do, I will throw up so much shit on the wall—shit that’s self-contradictory and constantly changing from one moment to the next, you’ll get nowhere. Because there’s nothing to understand here. I don’t even want to talk to you; I just want you to walk away frustrated and defeated.”

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