|Robert Martin, emeritus curator of the Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum, from a video created for Day of Facts.|
Facts can delight: A car dashboard is so named because buggies and wagons had a tilted board in that position to block mud kicked up by horses’ hooves.
Facts can warn: Smoking cigarettes will, on average, shorten your life by 10 years.
Facts can inspire: If you quit smoking by age 35, you can claw those lost years back.
A relevant fact is a powerful thing. In that spirit, Friday, Feb. 17, has been dubbed the “Day of Facts” and 270 cultural institutions in the United States and 13 other countries have signed up to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to share important facts.
|Turkish manuscript from 1600, showing a map of the Americas|
with the south at the top, illustrating the long history of cultural
exchange between Islam and the West (Newberry Library)
“The idea is for libraries and museums and archives across the country and around the world to post mission-related content as a way of reassuring the public that, as institutions, we remain trusted sources of knowledge,” said Alex Teller, director of communications at the Newberry Library. “It reflects recognition among a number of different institutions that while our missions haven’t changed, they’ve taken on a new significance in an era of alternative facts.”
Those words sound carefully weighed. And for good reason. In this atmosphere of official vindictiveness, there is a real risk of payback. So I asked directly: Is this a reaction to Donald Trump?
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