2020 has had many themes: there have been arguments about science and its application. Discussions about inequality have also come to the fore. Serious questions about racism have emerged. What constitutes liberty has elicited varied opinions. However, one element that has woven its way through all of these subjects is the nature of truth.
The interpretation of datasets employs a good chunk of academia; finding out what we can discern from facts is a worthwhile pursuit. However, the facts themselves should not be in dispute, particularly when they are backed by empirical evidence. If a GDP figure shows a dip, then we need to be able to rely on that information to inform what we should do next; what we choose to do is up for debate, but not the figure itself. Having a common set of facts is necessary for a rational decision-making framework. Facts also are the one element in a debate that neither respond nor alter on the basis of name-calling.
However, we cannot presently agree on facts. Even when facts are clear, they