Ursula Le Guin addresses 'alternative facts' in letter to the editor
Merriam-Webster isn’t alone in its critique of President Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway’s use of the term “alternative facts.”
Acclaimed writer Ursula Le Guin (the Earthsea Cycle) also has a few thoughts on the matter, which she has since shared in a letter to the editor in The Oregonian, published Wednesday.
In particular, her main issue was a recent letter to the editor comparing ‘alternative facts’ to science fiction. According to the science fiction and fantasy author, that won’t work.
“A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work,” begins Le Guin. “We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real — all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it ‘alternative history’ or ‘an alternate universe,’ but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are ‘alternative facts.'”
She continues, “Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so — it has no ‘alternative.’ The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or ‘alternative fact’) is a lie.”
The Left Hand of Darkness writer concludes saying, “A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.”
Le Guin is the latest author to speak out regarding statements and policy decision made by the president and his administration. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Anne Rice, John Green, among others, all voiced their concerns on Twitter following the signing of various executive orders, including the immigration and refugee ban, the border wall between the United State and Mexico, a rollback of the Affordable Care Act, and approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone Oil Pipelines.