A limerick a week #19

A quote usually attributed to the late USA Senator Patrick Daniel Moynihan is that: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts”.

In truth, there are some that argue otherwise. An Australian philosopher, Patrick Stokes, gets to the nub of the problem: “If ‘everyone’s entitled to their opinion’ just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true but fairly trivial, but if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false.

Which brings us to the new White House incumbent’s view of (i) winning the popular vote in the American presidential election (along the lines of “I won if you disregard the votes of the millions of illegal voters” – this despite any evidence of mass illegality and rather akin to saying that “if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle”) and (ii) claiming the biggest-ever crowd at a presidential inauguration despite clear evidence to the contrary.

The White House trumpeted its non-sensical perspectives as ‘alternative opinions’ or, more insidiously, as ‘alternative facts’.

… where lies trump facts

Dangerous stuff, so:

When it’s “truth” that your verbiage lacks,
They’re “lies” not “alternative facts”.
So without much compunction
I hope that you’re dumped-on
For your pathetically risible acts.

Postscript #1: Fred Shapiro, editor of ‘The Yale book of Quotations’, points to an earlier quote about the right to one’s own opinion by Bernard Baruch, an American financier and philanthropist. It seems to have historical precedence over Moynihan’s quote and states that: “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.

Postscript #2: My all-time favourite title for an article is Richard Lewontin’s and Stephen Jay Gould’s paper entitled: ‘The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm’.

Having just become aquainted with Fred Shapiro’s work (Postscript #1), I’m now pleased to say that I have a second favourite title, from his article: The politically correct US Supreme Court and the Motherf**king Texas Court of Criminal Appeals‘.

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😎 Former scientist, now graduated to a life of leisure; Family man (which may surprise the family - it certainly surprises him); Likes cycling and old-fashioned B&W film photography; Dislikes greasy-pole-climbing 'yes men'; Thinks Afterlife (previously known as Thea Gilmore) should be much better known than she is; Values decency over achievement.

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