' In Quest of Facts






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In Quest of Facts
By Ayush Prasad

July 22, 2012


“Ayush, what you write is bull-s**t. You should base your opinions on facts”, was a rather honest feedback from a friend, on my articles. Her comments got me thinking about facts and what she calls “facts”.

Wikipedia defines fact as something that has actually happened. Facts related to the truth and it could be about anything. So to essentially understand the “fact of the matter” one must know the truth about it. The truth must be sans bias and it should be holistic. In theory, it should also be constant and not change with time. With all of the above requirements, I “in-fact” feel its impossible to be factually correct. All of us base our opinions and thoughts on what we perceive to be the fact.

Scientific Facts are easiest to arrive at as they have to be proven by experiments. These experiments would arrive at the same fact every time they are performed. These facts are called Laws and are generally accepted around the world. But even these laws are challenged from time to time, as science progresses. The fact of yesterday becomes a lie of today. Hence, Classical Physics makes way for Quantum Physics.

When it comes to a historical event, facts get mired in bias. History is after all written by the victor, who finds ways to glorify their achievement over others. The single story is factually incorrect and cannot essentially be called facts.

Then there are theories and thoughts that are generally called facts, such as -facts of nature; theories on way society, economy, human psychology, philosophy etc. Each of these “facts” are more than often, due to the unavailability of complete information or intellectual bias. For instance, in a worker’s strike, one does not know the intangible influencing factors.

I wondered if facts were themselves so debatable and open to my own interpretation, why she insisted that I base my writing on facts. And when she meant facts, did she mean my facts or her facts?

Facts are meant to be stories and there are always multiple stories or theories on a single event or occurrence. Each person has his own facts. People choose facts that suit them, either materialistically or intellectually. For instance an accused in riots would state that he was led to participate in the riots rather than participating on his own accord. A leftist would see a statistic very differently from a capitalist.

Often there are conflicts over facts and a human desire to arrive at the “Universal Fact”. Every day in courts of law, lawyers argue over what their client think is a fact. The judge has a difficult of decide on the fact for the society between the two competing facts. Often to prove a fact, people draw from scientific sources or on logic or even on factually incorrect thoughts.

The correctness of facts have been debated and argued for centuries. In the medieval times, the Church took serious exception to people who challenged their facts. Galileo was imprisoned for challenging the fact accepted by the Church that Earth was the center of the Universe. It was only in 1992 that it accepted the fact that was proposed by Galileo. History abounds with examples where Kings have killed subjects in order to quell their facts. Wars have been waged to settle the dispute about facts.

Media is in a business of collecting and informing facts of the world to people. The entire credibility of the media is based on its ability to be factually correct. Publication of a single incorrect fact can harm reputation in the widely competitive market.

The nature of the media agency is determined by the method it uses to collect facts. Some media agencies simply report “facts” as stated by others. The person stating the facts takes responsibility for the accuracy of the facts. On the other hand, tabloids rely on grapevine and do not vouch for accuracy of facts. They print gossips and rumours. Such news stories appeal to people who are looking for entertainment or conspiracy theories.

In today’s world of freedom of speech the primacy of a certain fact over other is determined by several factors that may be far from the focus on truth. Facts must be convenient to people, it must make their lives easy by either supporting their economic or moral beings. Therefore, corruption may be a harmful thing in the society, the fact remains that everyone but us in the society practices it apart from us.

A fact that does not involve us is popular based on the person speaking it. A lie could become the fact of the day if it appeals to our logic and an articulate person is speaking it out. People have sold lies as facts and won elections to high offices.

With the development of internet, facts have got distorted. It is a form of Chinese whisper where the original source is over shadowed by interpretations and preconceived notions. Wrong Information could flow, without any one being responsible for it from one end of the world to another.

Information age has put a lot of emphasis on facts and it is important for all of us to be careful of the information that we accept as facts. As there is no one fact, there are multiple facts. And anything I write or believe is based on facts that I accept. And I believe that in fact is the fact.

 

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Comments on this article
Pamela, New ZealandFriday, July 27, 2012
Hi Ayush ...
it's like i was reading my thoughts out loud albeit written by someone else! i share the exact same sentiments about this thing people call 'facts' amd like you, i kept citing 'history' as an example. you've very adeptly described what's one man's medicine is another man's poison ! well done ... and keep that pen moving!
cheers!
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Pradeep, MangaloreTuesday, July 24, 2012
In my opinion, most the media articles, programs and publications are so blatantly sensationalized without considering the impact or the consequences. A media person fails to do his duty when matter is not published with a goal of making readers aware of the truth rather concocted with half truths and assertions as facts and allowing them to be misinterpreted based on the readers prejudices, per-conceived notions and biases. Knowing how people will interpret articles and programs is a fundamental skill of a media person and failing to recognize this and willfully ignoring this is an abject failure on part of the media person towards his duties. In my opinion, most journalists today in the field are abysmally incompetent. My opinion does not change anything anyways, journalists remain what they are ...whether it is a fact or not
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Kareem Faraz, HanamkondaTuesday, July 24, 2012
And the fact of the facts is that all facts are either one-sided facts or supposed to be facts or believed to be facts and/or not looked at from all angles in a matter of fact manner. Still people believe that facts remain. In fact, they don't. What remain are crushed-facts, deteriorated-facts, imposed-facts, cosmatic-facts and you have to accept these facts the way they are presented as actual-facts.
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