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Alternative Facts and The Politics of Perception

On Saturday, the Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference to tell the press that estimates of crowds at the Inauguration were false.  When Chuck Todd asked Kellyanne Conway why the Press Secretary used his first press conference to lie to the press, she said he did not lie, he used “alternative facts.”

Trump himself has repeatedly made claims that are verifiably false.  He claimed that the Democrats had rigged the debates to go up against an NFL game, though the NFL schedule was established after the debates and that the Koch brothers asked for a meeting with him when they did not.  Those are just two examples in a sea of many.  A lot of people are rightfully concerned that the Administration will offer its set of “facts” that are in no way connected to what has happened or what has been said.  These concerns have opened a question about what it means for us to share a reality.  If politics is a matter of sharing a world, this common reality must be established and is not given in advance.  This common reality is fragile.  This common reality is informed by our desires to see the world in a certain way.  It feels like now more than ever we are fighting to establish a common world, but the history of alternative realities constituting American politics is long. Read more

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