A fact can be defined in a number of ways, for me a fact is something simple, concrete and been proven a number of times. A fact can never be completely metaphysical. You can say “God exists” but that isn’t a fact, it’s a statement of belief. All facts can become beliefs but not all beliefs are facts. A fact exists regardless of the observer. When speaking of facts we are often required to use some subjective means of describing them “mineral A is harder than mineral B but softer than mineral C” but that does not mean the fact itself is subjective. Sometimes we over state a fact “all birds fly” when in reality what we mean is most birds can fly. a more factual statement is “all birds have wings”.
Beliefs can be defined a couple different ways but I’d like to focus on a very specific grouping. When referring to this grouping I will capitalize the word Belief. I am speaking of Beliefs that presume something to be true but either has not been proven or cannot be proven. Beliefs that cannot be considered factual. God exists is a statement of this type of Belief. More than that though, Beliefs short circuit ones own ability to use logic. Believing in the existence of a god, any god, is not in itself dangerous. But Belief gives a person the impression that they know the truth and they have no only the right but the responsibility of forcing others to follow that truth. Claiming a Belief allows peoples personal dislikes (which is simply a matter of taste, not truth or fact) to masquerade as something more, something possibly even commendable.
Truth is the slipperiest of the bunch. Justified Belief is probably the best philosophic definition I’ve ever seen but I’d actually like to stay away from that. Justified is a hard word to parse for most people, they feel justified believing all sorts of things based on nothing more than a gut feeling and personal preference. I prefer to think of truth as a collection of smaller facts that when taken together strongly imply a larger whole. I consider climate change a “truth” in that sense. a bunch of known smaller facts about the climate and the changes in weather heavily imply that climate change is occurring and that man made pollutants are playing some role in that. so when I speak of truth I don’t necessarily speak of something that is a justified belief, to me that’s simply a fact. Truth are the larger inferences that can be considered strong correlations to what we already know. Truth is also not changed by one fact being wrong, it’s a collection, a web work of many facts taken together.
Humanity has always been having a war between those who trust in facts and those who trust in Beliefs. What currently being seen in the United States is not really new at all, but should be very concerning. Certain segments of the population are choosing to ignore facts so they don’t need to give up their beliefs. It’s a known quality of humans that we will often choose to listen to facts that agree most with our own worldview while ignoring any facts that either deny it or complicate what we already believe. What we are seeing is more than that. We’re seeing a complete embrace of alternative narratives where facts play no role at all. It’s not the first time this has happened, but when it’s happened in the past it typically leads to a large and destructive upheaval. Moreover the embrace of beliefs over facts right now is far more dangerous because a certain portion of these people don’t seem to believe in facts in the first place.
It’s no surprise that it’s coming to this though. For the first time in human history science and facts actually have the upper hand. In the past science and facts were the underdogs, fighting against hostile religious and political authorities. The power of religion in the United States has waned, at least in terms of organized religion and blind dogma, but that just means that whats left is that much more vicious, a cornered animal willing to destroy whatever it needs to so it doesn’t need to give in. It’s also allowing a certain type of mindset to fill what would normally be filled with religion with any sort of sludge at all. Does the idea of creating a white ethnic state even sound feasible? leave aside the moral dimensions, the sheer amount of resources to either displace or remove other ethnic groups is mind boggling. Clearly an example of Belief overwhelming any logical portion of the mind.
The strength of a belief proves only that, the strength of the belief. Having a strong conviction doesn’t make it true or false. a very loose paraphrasing of Nietzsche but all too true. It’s too bad that every generation has to relearn the same tired lesson.