Beware of Facts Man

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Pull down your mask, liberate your consciousness: It’s time to meet Facts Man.

Or examine him, really. You have met Facts Man before if you have spent any time online in the past half decade or so. He’s inescapable. He podcasts. He makes YouTube videos. He traffics in Medium posts. He burns up Facebook. And he loves—loves!—Twitter.

What does he serve up there? Truth. Facts. The overlooked and the undercovered. The unvarnished and obvious conclusions that the media do not want you to believe. The conclusions that the social-justice warriors and sheeple professors will not let you reach. The conclusions that mere mortals, including lauded subject-matter experts and the people who have actual lived experience of the topic at hand, have not yet grasped.

[Read: The miseducation of the American boy]

He—and he is almost always a he—is a venture capitalist who has analyzed the hospitalizations data! He is a growth hacker with a piercing view of race and measures of intelligence! He is an industry analyst with insight into viral spread! He is a lawyer exploding nuances of gender and sex!

The Facts Man gives it to you straight. With his college degree, with his top-quality résumé, with his insider knowledge, with his background in euclidean something-or-other—sharpened by debating with the smartest people, who never went to school—here is what he has found. These are the data. These are more data. This. Is. It. Here’s the inevitable conclusion. It’s the only conclusion possible!

If Facts Man is Political Facts Man, he’d rather not discuss his actual politics. Do not believe that his politics are precisely what they look like; just believe that his conclusions are what he says they are. Perhaps Facts Man is part of the intellectual dark web or the alt-center. Perhaps Facts Man hates the intellectual dark web or the alt-center. Perhaps Facts Man is clearly on the alt-right but also a fierce critic of the alt-right. He is not to be placed on the policy spectrum!

Facts Man’s politics are, in fact, non-politics. Facts Man hates politics, though not exclamation points! Facts Man hates the party system. Facts Man hates politicians. Facts Man hates political thinkers. That’s not a political statement! Facts Man cares about truth and truth only.

If Facts Man is Science Facts Man, he is adjacent to science, so he understands science better than scientists. He has credentials that let him look at the data and see them, instead of looking at the data and just looking at them. Or looking at them and interpreting them however your field interprets them. Or looking at them and waiting for them to be interpreted in the press. Science Facts Man operates without the encumbrances of peer review or any sense of the complexities endemic to many scientific fields. That is what he brings to the debate!

Facts Man is about truth, and by “truth,” Facts Man means the discourse. He parachutes in to rectify the discourse. He invites conversations. He ends conversations. He is not about contrarianism, but correctness. He is obsessed with the media, which he is not part of, though perhaps he is a major media figure himself. There’s no contradiction there.

[Read: A cultural history of mansplaining]

Facts Man is about truth, and by “truth,” Facts Man means conclusions. He is drawn inexorably to them, moth to flame, magnet to steel. Facts Man hates complexity and uncertainty. He hates the messy, hazy process of updating our understanding as data come in and things change. How is that science? How is that something the media are allowed to do? Facts Man is about clear-cutting his way to the truth. Facts Man is about disrupting his way to the truth. Facts Man is about arriving out of nowhere with the truth in hand.

Sometimes, Facts Man is less about truth than raising questions. Why can’t Facts Man talk about certain issues in exactly the way he wants to? Why can’t Facts Man bring up scientific facts relevant to other people’s humanity without getting called out for it? Why can’t Facts Man make obscenely offensive conjectures about life-or-death issues? Where’s the open debate? Why does Facts Man have to genuflect to other peoples’ identity politics? Facts Man himself has no identity politics! He is an individual, as unique as a snowflake, but certainly not as fragile as one.

[Read: The end of men]

Facts Man is about the medium, meaning social media. Facts Man reaches everyone. Facts Man goes viral. Facts Man blasts out to every clear thinker out there, meaning he creates a political tribe of clear thinkers who think just like him! Clear thinkers who don’t care about feelings. The only feeling he has is righteous indignation.

You get the sense that Facts Man was the captain of his debate team. You get the sense that Facts Man went to law school because it teaches you how to think. Facts Man recently lost 15 pounds on the keto diet. Facts Man hates Disney moms. Facts Man claps on the one and the three.

Facts Man is a Man, if not a man. (He thinks this story is sexist.) Facts Man is a mechanism of discourse. Facts Men, they are everywhere. Facts, man. They’re out there.


Annie Lowrey

2020-07-31 07:45:00

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