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As an Addendum to the Previous Post…

August 26, 2012

…I think I’m beginning to understand why political debates tend to revolve around factual assertions. The reason: because much of what conservatives say is untrue.

Creationism and climate change denial are two familiar examples of conservative positions at odds with basic, well-supported facts. Most recently, Niall Ferguson’s Newsweek cover story article has been widely lambasted for its factual inaccuracies–and not just by liberals.

The falsehoods on which Ferguson rests his case that Obama doesn’t deserve a second term have been well-documented, notably by Matthew O’Brien. I need not repeat them here. What I would like to do instead is slightly amend my last post. Facts require interpretation; that much I maintain. In the current political climate, however, it seems worth emphasizing that what’s needed most is often simple fact checking and debunking. As Al Franken once said, “we are entitled to our own opinions; we are not entitled to our own facts.” This is, you might say, one of the first principles of policy debate–or, at least, it should be. It may true that liberals tend to fetishize facts; far more alarming is the conservative tendency to disregard them.

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