Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Reality-Based Community Web-Buttons Now Available

Given the rapidly growing popularity of the Reality-Based Community meme, I thought I’d do community members a service by creating a fancy button to advertise your membership:


I encourage community members to copy the button and post it on their own blogs and websites. You’ll see that I’ve put mine in the right-hand column of this page. And for those who share our current administration’s more postmodern attitude towards facts, I’ve created an alternative button:


As long as I’m jumping on the bandwagon, I might as well add my thoughts on the statement that inspired the moniker. Here’s the key bit from Suskind's article:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
There is a charitable interpretation of this. It is not silly to believe that the United States can, through its choice of policies, affect reality. We are not simply helpless in the face of an exogenous reality over which we have no control. That recognition in no way contradicts the notion that we ought to study discernable facts in order to reach reasoned conclusions about what is and is not possible. What’s scary about the passage above is not that administration officials think U.S. policies can affect reality, but that they use the term “reality-based” to describe, not themselves, but other people. In other words, they celebrate the notion of making decisions without reference to reasoning and facts. If you read the rest of the article, it becomes frighteningly apparent that the charitable interpretation is not the correct one.


Anonymous said...

I like your pretty new button a lot! Though, the background looks like a miasma of smoke and gives me the impression that reality is on fire like it really is. Even if unintentional, a nice effect! For the other button with *reality* in quotes, you need to add a reflection of the word reality. That way you'll get a "smoke and mirrors" effect. I also would prefer that the button you've added to your site link to something. I let you work on just where it should take us. I'm sure you'll rule out Disneyland or the Bush Whitehouse.

Anonymous said...

"...we create our own reality." How New Age can the Bushies get? "Reality-Based Community" certainly is a better tag than (the otherwise brilliant) Dan Dennett's lame term "Brights".

Anonymous said...

Yes "reality-based" is a great term for those voting for a man who carries a special forces hat in a secret compartment in his briefcase.