Not Alternative Facts
We prefer to believe what we prefer to be true. Francis Bacon
Once upon a time we had facts; a fact was a fact. By definition facts are true. Today we now have “alternative facts”, although I don’t believe they yet have been defined. I believe it is fair to say that people will believe the facts or alternative facts to be true that they want to be true. Therefore, facts and alternative facts are in the “eye of the beholder”; determined by the observer.
What is needed is a method for determining what is actually truth and what is “real fact”. This exists in the scientific method. The systematic procedure for scientific investigation, generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to test the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis. Here is my proposal for a modern day reframing strategy: “Alternative Hypotheses”. Instead of debating fact vs. alternative fact, or truth vs. falsehoods or lies, treat them as alternative hypotheses.
The surest way to lose the truth is to pretend that you already possess it. Gordon Allport
Treating your truth or facts as a hypothesis assumes it to be true for the purpose of questioning and investigating, in order to be sure. This promotes uncertainty and open-mindedness. Treating truths or facts as absolutes leaves you with no where else to go. When you pretend you already posses the absolute truth, there is no questioning, no investigation, no receptivity to new or different truth possibilities. “Knowing” may prevent learning.
We don’t have to be paralyzed by this strategy. If necessary we can still act on a truth or a fact as a hypothesis, and learn from our experience. After investigating and being receptive to new or different possibilities, there comes a time to act, to do something. Make a decision on your best hypothesis. Although doing nothing sometimes works, it isn’t always the best policy.
Hypostasis testing is a decision making method. Examining our options, experimenting with outcomes (scenario rehearsal) and estimating our probabilities are all part of the scientific method of deciding. Alternative hypotheses as a reframing strategy in a period when falsehoods are common Is bound to be helpful.
We each are the observer and beholder of our truths and facts. Can you think of some people today who might benefit from applying the scientific method to their truths and facts? What about you? Is it unlikely to expect anyone to question and investigate what they prefer to be true?