Friday, May 12, 2006

Fact and Fiction

(The following is an oldie that I'm re-posting here to have it available online. I will do this kind of thing occasionally in the future, as events warrant.)

Star Trek is fiction.

What I mean by the previous sentence is that Star Trek is not fact.

It doesn't really matter in this context how, exactly we define all these terms or how and where we draw the line between fact and fiction; You know exactly what I mean when I say "Star Trek is not fact" and that is all that is necessary: We can choose our terms to communicate this idea that we both understand or we can choose them to obscure it - and if you choose the latter then you're a liar.

Invariably, of course, some liar will now proclaim that they don't know what I mean. There is no point to this proclamation -- merely childish rebellion at the realization that someone pointed out something that is blazingly obvious that they yet failed to realize up to now.

It does not matter how anybody manages to contort language such as to blur the terms "fact" and "fiction": the fact that they are even attempting to do so tells us that they refuse to separate fact from fiction. That their intent is passing off the one as the other. And that is exactly what the term "liar" means: someone who is trying to obscure the line between fact and fiction.

I am not making the claim that it is always easy (or even always possible) to separate fact from fiction. It may be difficult at times, depending on the subject matter at hand. But there are those who try at least, who make a genuine effort because they acknowledge the difference between fact and fiction and value truth -- who are called "honest". And then there are those who refuse to even try, who go out of their way to impede this distinction -- who are called "liars".

Star Trek is fiction.

And it does not become fact just because there might be the one or other correct artifact in there: For all I know (or care) all the Shakespeare quotes in Star Trek are genuine, but that doesn't make Star Trek fact.

And maybe there will be a space ship in the 24th century with the name "Enterprise" and maybe the name of its captain will be "Picard" and none of this is going to change one iota about the fact that Star Trek is fiction.

It is not Fact.

Now none of this has anything to with any kind of "proof": there's simply nothing to prove here anywhere.

We, humans, know that Star Trek is fiction because ... we, humans, invented it. It is OUR fiction. We made it up. We created it.

All it takes is for all involved people to be honest for a second and then there is no issue here anywhere. Star Trek is fiction, and that is all there is to it. There's no discussion anywhere about this because there's nothing to discuss.

Not only do we know that Star Trek is fiction, we know how we know that. The entire process is entirely transparent and obvious. We invented it, therefore it is fiction. No matter how, exactly, we end up defining the term "fiction": if we choose the term such as to express the thought on which we already agree then it'll be the equivalent to something we made up. Or if someone chooses a term that deliberately attempts to mislead about the fact/fiction distinction then we know that person is a liar.

Anybody who claims that Star Trek is fact is a liar. Anybody who claims that Star Trek "might be" fact or "could be" fact is a liar. Anybody who claims that there's even an open question here
anywhere about any of this is a liar.

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