We got word on a Wednesday. A conservative pundit and longtime supporter of the president-elect was opining on TV about absurd claims that millions of people voted illegally in California. It didn’t matter if this was a lie. The pundit informed her host: “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.”
The pundit wasn’t referring to news that the Oxford English Dictionary had named “post-truth” word-of-the-year. (Over at Dictionary.com, the word was “xenophobia.”) This was bigger.
So I broke the news to our son, a sophomore in high school. After all, if he’s studying for a chemistry exam, solving quadratic equations, or putting together a report on 16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, it’s helpful to know facts are now unnecessary.
True, when the boy was in the third grade—a little younger than the pundit’s kids are now—he illustrated the difference between facts and opinion in a poster about puffins. To quote: “Fact: Puffins’ main source of food is fish. Opinion: Puffins are cool.”
When I told the boy of the demise of facts, he looked up from his laptop screen and said, “Great! I’m now president of the United States. Bring me some food.”