Elsewhere I describe knowledge brokering as bridging the gaps between facts, outcomes and benefits.
Within that I identify three different types of fact:
- key facts – of an agreed importance
- subsidiary facts – of an agreed lesser importance
- contested facts – disagreement about whether they are either key or subsidiary facts
The overall point I am trying to make is that facts are negotiated and are not universal truths or beliefs.
There is nothing new about such an approach and one can attribute various philosophical positions to it and any opposing views. One group, to which my late father belonged, aligns itself with realism. This has been described as an anti-idealist movement i.e. the world around us is not made up of utopian wishes and intentions but of solid, hard reality, however unpleasant or distasteful this might seem to us. It’s not my natural standpoint, though I respect those who hold it.
So in 2012 we had the big scare about a predicted global disaster of epic proportions on or around 21 December. So far nothing.
At the opposite end of the scale we know that there were numerous, seemingly random and certainly callous acts of violence undertaken by one of more humans on others during 2012. The latest sad episode was in India, the poor victim succumbing to her injuries today. I have blogged about two US massacres here and here.
And then there were all those events and happenings between.
From very small things, such as the smile on a child’s face as he or she opened a long-awaited present. To bigger things, such as a local community hosting an event to promote better cultural integration or exchange of ideas. Or the collapse of a part of a glacier or ice shelf somewhere in the frozen reaches of the planet.
We need to negotiate the importance of such things with others.
There is no hard choice between reality and superstition, but a continuum of options that always face us and with which we must engage on a daily basis.