Charles Petzold

Get Real

October 17, 2007
New York, N.Y.

Perhaps October 17th should come to be known as Reality Day. We might use the occasion to reflect upon the importance of reality in our daily lives, and to acknowledge that, like Mother Nature, reality can't be fooled.

Why October 17th? On this day just three years ago, many of us settled down to read an article by Ron Suskind entitled "Without a Doubt: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," and came upon a passage that caused us to spray breakfast beverage on the pages of the Sunday New York Times Magazine section. Here it is:

Sometimes you'll hear someone claim to be a "proud member of the reality-based community." This article is the origin of that phrase (although I don't know who first added the "proud member" part). You can't really over-indulge in reality, so devoting just one day to its celebration doesn't seem excessive.

On Reality Day we dance in exultation to the ideals of clear thinking and the scientific method.

On Reality Day we sing a sad dirge for the disasters wrought by those who fail to grasp the concept.