Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0111, Febuary 24, 2017


"Alternative Facts"

For your pleasure and edification, herewith a visual "alternative fact". Comments follow.

Copyright 2017 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     On one level, the image above is just what it is: a pattern on your screen made up of about 900,000 tiny glowing red, blue and green dots of varying brightness. That is a genuine fact, although, admittedly, incomplete and not terribly precise.

     It is incomplete and imprecise because, among other things, the number of dots is only a rough estimate; size and brightness of the dots are not specified, nor is the actual hue of the red, the blue and the green; placement of colors is not specified; etc., etc., etc. But even with all the approximations and omissions, it's still a bona fide fact, consistent with what is actually the case.

     On another level, the image you see above is a fake, an illusion, what some might call an "alternative fact". It purports to be a record of an actual landscape but no such landscape exists or could exist. The image does not correspond to anything outside of itself. It's a rather intriguing image which makes it especially deceitful because we want to believe it represents something real. The illusion appeals to the eye, heart and mind while the fact of its fakery remains unnoticed or willfully ignored (which makes it a species of Art, but that's another story).

     Miscreants with nefarious intentions can easily make evil use both of the intrinsic imprecision of facts and of the emotional power of illusion to create apparently credible "alternative facts" that serve their purposes better than what is actually the case. Prickles is very worried that the general public is incapable of effectively sorting genuine from "alternative" in the deluge of facts and factoids being daily generated by the media. Don't worry, I tell her, ultimately, what is actually the case always wins over fake "alternative facts". "That's what I'm afraid of," she says.

Comments to
(The Ed will post and may respond to selected comments, if any)