“Off the west coast of Canada, Vancouver Island has been ground zero for assisted suicide in the country. It was here that Sue Rodriguez, a 42-year-old suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., began her battle to die with dignity in the 1990s, going all the way to the Supreme Court. “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” she famously said.”
I hate to break it to you, gentle reader, but fake facts are nothing new. We are designed by evolution to invent fake facts, fervently believe in them, and even defend them to the death. Still, there is something about the current epidemic of fake facts that should scare us into action.
Imagine grading everything you ever said according to two criteria: 1) How well it corresponds to what’s actually out there, and 2) what it causes you and others to do. These can be called factual realism and practical realism, respectively, and they are so familiar that we use the word “realistic” in both senses without needing to think about it. If we’re at an art gallery and I comment on how a portrait is realistic, I mean that it corresponds closely to the person being depicted (factual realism). When you outline your latest get rich quick scheme over lunch and I call it unrealistic, I mean that it probably won’t work out well for you (practical realism). All of us are experts at toggling between factual realism mode and practical realism mode as warranted by the situation.
Read the essay at the source : The Evolution Institute.
Rescuing Memory: the Humanist Interview with Noam Chomsky
There is a very timely two-part lecture series coming up at the Institute of Practical Philosophy at Vancouver Island University in April:
- Is Doctor Assisted Suicide Acceptable? Thursday, April 7th, 4-5:30pm, Bldg. 200, Rm. 203 (Theatre), VIU
- How Should We Move Forward? Thursday, April 21st, 4-5:30, Bldg. 200, Rm. 203 (Theatre), VIU
For more information, see the Institute of Practical Philosophy Events page.