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:
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.''
(The complete article is here.)
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.