Fantasyland - Chapter 22, webpage 3, continued

Making Make-Believe More Realistic and Real Life More Make-Believe
Pro wrestling emerged during the entertainment boon times of the 1910s and 1920s, when it had to compete both with ascendant sports like baseball and boxing as well as with theater and now, movies and radio. Pro wrestling split the difference between the two: real people in physical competition, but the characters and action and outcomes all extreme works of scripted and improvised fiction. During the 1930s, the sensible American public registered and rejected the phoniness, and pro wrestling went into decline.

It had a brief renaissance in the 1950s, thanks to the new medium of TV which needed content, and all the networks started airing matches. California's athletic commission officially agreed to keep pretending professional wrestling was real. If people preferred to believe an entertaining lie was true, that was their right as Americans. In 1957 matches were suddenly drawing Madison Square Garden's biggest crowds for any events in years, and one night, as a pair of hero and villain wrestlers kept "fighting' after their match finished, audience members started fighting over the outcome. Five hundred New Yorkers rioted, throwing punches and bottles. "Many of the fans," the Times incredulously reported, "believe the sport to be a true contest-of skill and strength. But that seemed like the swan song; pro wrestling's fakery was still a fundamental problem, it was a niche taste: as TV got flush and respectable, the networks moved on. During my youth in the 1960s and '70s, pro wrestling was a ridiculous, low-rent artifact quickly headed, everybody figured, for oblivion.

Until the 1980s. Cable TV programming had arrived, even more shamelessly willing than broadcast TV had been to sell anything. And then the networks, feeling threatened by cable and because the free market totally ruled, abandoned their old qualms about presenting fantasy as reality and began broadcasting wrestling once again. The new laissez-faire economic era also permitted a defacto monopoly to form what became the World Wide Wrestling Federation and then the WWE. The businessman in charge of the monopoly, Vince McMahon, had a brilliant insight, realizing that America’s Barumesque strain had reasserted itself: fake versus real was no longer the point, because wrestling's audience was not fully habituated, as one scholar of the realm has written, to "believing and disbelieving in what it sees at the same time." And so during the 1980s, the WWF and other promoters were finally free to end the Big Lie. In the old days, wrestling always officially insisted it was real. Finally it could stop pretending, because "real" and "fake" were relative, because nobody really cared anymore.

In less than a decade, pro wrestling mushroomed from a business generating a few tens of millions to half a billion a year. The audience expanded beyond its old blue-collar job niche to the middle classes, families, college

kids. It was transgressive, a fun con. And the real and fictional parts of the wrestler’s lives were now indiscriminately mixed and merged. In professional wrestling matches, any occasional, inevitable bit of unscripted authenticity was known as a shoot - old-time carnival lingo for when the gunsight on a shooting gallery's rifle aimed accurately. The standard fakery of matches in pro wrestling was known as work, and in the 1980s WWF producers invented the worked shoot: as one historian (and fantasy novelist) explains, they started incorporating "the real events of a wrestlers' personal lives as part of the story . . . alcoholism, cheating relationships, childhood trauma and problems with the law, are fused from reality into the fantasy."

Is there a more apt metaphor for our recent cultural transformation? America became a worked shoot.

I recall in the late 70’s watching world wide wrestling with my grandfather. On Sunday mornings we’d watch the weekly World Wide Wrestling Federation matches in the “squared circle”. My grandfather was a very mild mannered man, I hardly ever saw him get really excited or lose his temper, except when he watched Wrestling.  I recall matches with Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino, Jimmy Snuka, the Wild Samoans, and the Indian Strongbows.  I also recall George “The Animal” Steele biting open and spitting out the padding in the turnbuckle pads. When the matches started my grandfather would start mouthing off at the wrestlers, he always had a favorite he wanted to win.  Pretty soon he would be off the couch jumping up and down yelling and screaming at the TV.  He would do this repeatedly up and down throughout the hour. After Wrestling was over, we’d watch candlepin bowling, and after about 15 minutes he would calm down into his usual self. I didn’t think I had the right to try and explain to him that the wresting was completely fake and choreographed, so I never mentioned such and we had a blast watching the matches.  My grandfather was born in 1901, he had gone from horse and buggy to automobile, he had lived through WWI, the Roaring 20s, the Stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, McCarthyism, Vietnam, the 70s and 80s. I wonder now if he knew that the fights were all staged, if he knew reality from fantasy in this one area of entertainment, not that it really matters.  But I wonder now what his neuroreality was like having lived through all those times.

The fantasy business of gambling grew much larger. Once state governments took over the numbers racket - that is, lotteries - they kept sliding further down the slippery slope. States colluded in the 1990s to create national lottery cartels that amped up the fantasy quotient; Powerball and Mega Millions encouraged even more wildly unrealistic dreams of even vaster wealth. Eventually most Americans would become regular lottery players, with the poorest third, probably not the least magical-thinking cohort, buying half the tickets.

And the states doubled down on the retailing of fantasy by legalizing casinos. Casinos are fantasy environments engineered to deny ordinary reality - no clocks, no views outside, plenty of booze. For most of a century, the industry had worked fine existing only out in the Nevada desert - and then

in New Jersey. But after 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indian reservations were exempt from gambling laws, states saw no reason why white businesspeople shouldn't also profit from citizen-suckers' fantasies. During the 1990s half the states legalized casinos. Some legislatures permitted gambling only under a special double-fantasy system: casinos had to float on bodies of water, as if that prevented the state from being sullied. So they were installed in nostalgic old-time showboats and required to motor up and down rivers to sustain the fiction. But after a while they were allowed to remain docked, and finally they no longer even had to keep make-believe captains and crews. Despite the presence of casinos nationwide, Americans seemed to crave the full Nevada immersion even more, like believers making pilgrimages to Jerusalem or Mecca. As Las Vegas turned into a city posing as a theme park - with hotel-casinos that were huge new simulations of ancient Egypt (the Luxor), medieval England (the Excalibur), the seventeenth-century Caribbean (Treasure Island), Renaissance Italy (the Venetian), contemporary France (Paris Las Vegas), and New York City (New York-New York) - the number of visitors tripled. The difference between real and make believe has become harder to discern.

Not so long ago, American adults never dressed up in costumes, certainly not as an annual ritual. When my daughters reached their early twenties, obsessing more than ever over their Halloween costumes, they were shocked when I told them that. The change happened recently, and it is another small expression of the new protocols. In the 1980s, after the Halloween parades invented by freshly out gay people in San Francisco and New York, dressing up on Halloween became a thing straight adults routinely did in every corner of America.

But why did Halloween have to be just a single day, and why couldn't the adult insistence on fictional authenticity become more narratively elaborate? Thus live action role-playing-LARP-took off, allowing people to become characters acting out stories in the real world, sometimes for days at a time. The founder was evidently a young actor in Manhattan who liked reading Lord of the Rings out loud by candlelight with his pals while high. When they went to the next level, staging a Hobbit War outdoors on somebody's parents' farm, it was the ur-LARP. But LARPing soon became a medium rather than a genre, a platform instead of a particular game. LARPs started as combat games, as participants used weapons made from sticks taped with foam, then more and more abandoned fighting. Every possible premise and milieu generated LARPs - Old West, detective noir and Nancy Drew, futures dominated by AI or zombies, fictional pasts based on H. P. Lovecraft or Nicola Tesla.

One of the points of LARPing is to remain in character, to be a fictional being for hours or days at a time. LARPers have a disparaging phrase for real life, mundania, and people who never LARP are called mundies, like muggles in Harry Potter. For players eager to blur the lines between their real and unreal selves even more, Nordic LARP arrived in the United States in the 1990s.  It de-emphasizes all the kid stuff, the combat and magic, and goes for more realism, with players aspiring to experience bleed, as they call it - to let their characters colonize their minds, to dream in character, to lose track of where real and fake begin and end.

And now there’s virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imaginary world. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to "look around" the artificial world, and with high quality VR move around in it and interact with virtual features or items. The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes. With this headset on, the brain can no longer separate virtual reality from actual reality – they both become one and the same.


Regarding selling a product, a car:

“What you market in a car,” the CEO of a car company finally admitted, “is not about what you use but about what you dream.”  I bought a sports car last year, I bought it because it met my requirements – sporty hatchback.  Recently I’ve seen car commercials on TV for this product.  They include a little boy being chased home from school by 2 bigger kids down a snow covered street in the middle of winter.  The little boy jumps over some shrubs and is cornered by the other 2 boys with snowballs. Intermittent are shots of the car racing down roads. At that point the sunshine brightens, all the snow suddenly melts, including the big kid’s snowballs, and the little kid starts tossing water balloons at the two bigger boys as they’re running away. Then I saw another commercial where 5 cars are driving down a road through the summer green mountains, and as they pass the entire mountains behind them suddenly get covered with snow. This seems like a perfect example of marketing a dream, a fantasy, as a profitable way of selling your product – marketing fantasy.


Forever Young, Kids "R" Us Syndrome

Middle aged people wearing Halloween costumes or attending Burning Man are expressions of a phenomenon I described earlier - the commitment of Americans, beginning with the baby boom generation, to a fantasy of remaining forever young. The treacly term “kids of all ages” had popped up when baby boomers were kids. But its currency skyrocketed during the 1980s and 1990s, when American adults, like no adults before them - but like all who followed - began playing videogames and fantasy sports, dressing like kids, grooming themselves and even getting surgery to look more like kids. It's what I call the Kids "R" Us Syndrome. It became pandemic and permanent. It ranges from the benign to the unfortunate.

As soon as all boomers were adults, half the buyers of comic books and tickets to superhero movies - the three Supermans and four Batmans just the beginning - were adults. As a result, both genres boomed. Video and computer games grew from nothing to a multibillion-dollar industry, not just because the technology got more powerful and the imaginary worlds more irresistibly realistic and immersive but also because by the end of the century, the great majority of consoles and cartridges and disks were bought by people who didn’t have to ask their parents for money – the average player was in his thirties. Videogames, originally sold to boys to pretend they were grown-up action heroes, were soon bought by mainly grown men who wanted to play like boys.

The strictly children's hobby of collecting and trading baseball cards became a primarily adult thing in the 1980s, the same time that Rotisserie League Baseball was invented and became the prototype for fantasy sports. By 1988, there were half a million U.S. fantasy sports players. In any earlier era, to spend hundreds of hours a year on an elaborate game of make believe – I’m a team owner, buying and selling players – would’ve been unthinkable for anyone but children.

With the Web, fantasy sports became fully industrialized, a new imaginary national pastime in which a third or more of American males would eventually participate. Fantasy sports are an expression of two underlying Fantasyland features that appear again and again. It's a superrealistic fiction, based on athletes' actual week-to-week performances and years of stats and a free market in make-believe assets. And it has hyperindividualism: each individual fantasy "owner" has a team composed of athletes whose individual performances are all that matter, rendering real teams' real wins and losses irrelevant. Fantasy sports – where fantasy actually becomes reality.



The Reagan Era and the Start of the Digital Age

Just before the Clintons arrived in Washington, the Right had managed to do away with the federal Fairness Doctrine, which had been enacted to keep radio and tv shows from being ideologically one-sided. Until then, big-time conservative opinion media had consisted of two magazines, William F. Buckley's biweekly National Review and the monthly American Spectator, both with small circulations. But absent a Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaugh's national right-wing radio show, launched in 1988, was free to thrive, and others promptly appeared, followed at the end of Clinton's first term by Fox News.

Should the old federal broadcast rules have been abolished? Maybe, maybe not, but in any case, cable T\/ was making them iffy and the Internet was just about to start rendering them moot. In any case, when the Washington gatekeepers decided to get rid of that regulatory gate, it was a pivotal moment, practically and symbolically. For most of the twentieth century, national news media had felt obliged to pursue and present some rough approximation of the truth rather than to promote a truth, let alone fictions.

With the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, a new American laissez-faire had been officially declared. If lots more incorrect and preposterous assertions circulated in our most massive mass media, that was a price of freedom. If splenetic commentators could now, as never before, keep believers perpetually riled up and feeling the excitement of being in a mob, so be it.

Rush Limbaugh, raised by a family of politically well connected lawyers in southern Missouri, entered show business early. From his teens throughout his twenties he was the radio deejay Rusty Sharpe, then the radio DJ Jeff Christie before he moved to talk radio using his real name. His virtuosic three hours of daily talk started bringing a sociopolitical alternate reality to a large national audience. Instead of relying only on a magazine or newsletter 

Fox News brought the Limbaughvian talk-radio version of the world to national TV, but it mingled straighter news with the newsish commentary. It permitted viewers an unending and immersive propaganda experience of a kind that had never existed before. The new channel's trademarked slogan was a kind of postmodern right-wing inside joke: since the rest of the national news media posing as objective were unfair and imbalanced in favor of liberals, Fox News would be "Fair and Balanced." As the new right-wing multi- media complex was establishing itself, on radio and now on TV, in the White House were a pair of glamorous Hollywood-connected liberal yuppies out of Yale - perfect villainous foils, as political infotainment entered its WWF era.

For Americans, this was another new condition. Modern electronic mass media had been a defining piece of the twentieth-century experience that served an important democratic function - presenting Americans with a shared set of facts. Now those news organs, on TV and radio, were enabling a reversion to the narrower, factional, partisan discourse that had been normal in America's earlier centuries. The new and newly unregulated technologies allowed us, in a sense, to travel backward in time.

AND THE INTERNET. In the 1980s, before the Web, Usenet was a kind of cross between email and social media.  In 1994 the first spam was sent, visible to everyone on Usenet: “Global Alert for All: Jesus is coming soon.” Over the

next year or two, the masses learned of the World Wide Web. The exponential rise of Fantasyland and all its dominions now had its perfect infrastructure.

It's hard to overstate the flabbergasting speed and magnitude of the change. In the early 1990s, when the Internet was still an obscure geek thing, fewer than 2 percent of Americans used it; by 2002, less than a decade later, most Americans were online. After the 1960s and '70s happened as they happened, it may be that America's long-standing dynamic balance - between thinking and magical thinking, reason and wishfulness, reality and fiction, sanity and lunacy - was broken for good. But once the Internet came along, we were definitely on a superhighway to a certain destination with no likely looking exits.

Before the Web, cockamamie ideas and outright falsehoods could not spread nearly as fast or widely, so it was much easier for reason and reasonableness to prevail. Before the Web, institutionalizing any one alternate reality required the long, hard work of hundreds of full-time militants - the way America's fundamentalist Christians spent decades setting up their own colleges and associations and magazines and radio stations. In the digital age, every tribe and fiefdom and principality and region of Fantasyland - every screwball with a computer and a telecom connection - suddenly had an unprecedented way to instruct and rile up and mobilize believers, and to recruit more.

Yes, we all know all about the extraordinary virtues and benefits of digital communication. You and I now have astounding access to information and ideas and cultural artifacts and people. In every pocket there is now a library, a phonograph, a radio, a movie theater, and a television, as well as a post office, a printing press, a telegraph, a still and video camera, a recording studio, a navigation system, and a radio and TV station. It is advanced technology indistinguishable from magic.

I'm not sure there ever would have been any effective or acceptable way to permit all the Internet's good parts and minimize the bad ones. By government fiat? By some spontaneous mass reactivation of our recessive American gene for restraint and moderation. We're a populist democracy of individualists, so too much democracy and individualism were always going to be the directions in which we finally erred.

In any case, the way Internet searching was designed to operate in the 1990s - that is, the way information and belief now flow, rise and fall - is democratic in the extreme. On the Internet, the prominence granted to any factual assertion or belief or theory depends entirely on the preferences of billions of individual searchers. Each click on a link, trillions a year, is

effectively a vote pushing that version of the truth toward the top of the pile of results, because every link to a page increases that page's prominence.

Exciting falsehoods tend to do well in the perpetual referenda and become self-validating. A search for almost any "alternative" theory or belief generates many more links to true believers' pages and sites than to legitimate or skeptical ones, and those tend to dominate the first few Pages of results. For instance, beginning in the 1990s, conspiracists decided contrails, the skinny clouds of water vapor that form around jet-engine exhaust, are exotic chemicals, part of a secret government scheme to test weapons or poison citizens or mitigate climate change - and renamed them chemtrails. When I  googled "chemtrails proof," the first page had nine links, the first seven of those linking to validations of the nonexistent conspiracy. When I searched for “government extraterrestrial cover up” in the first three pages of results, only one link didn't lead to an article endorsing a conspiracy theory. After a Cornell psychologist's widely reported experiment purported to show that people can telepathically know the future, a team of psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania and three other universities tried replicating it seven times - and found no evidence supporting precognition. When I googled the two papers, "Feeling the Future" and "Correcting the Past," the dubious and more exciting first one had seven times as many search results.

Before the Web, it really wasn't easy to find or stumble across false or crazy information that was convincingly passing itself off as true. Post-web, however, as the Syracuse University professor Michael Barkun wrote in 2003 in The Culture of Conspiracy, "such subject-specific areas as crank science, conspiracist politics, and occultism are not isolated from one another." but "rather, they are interconnected. Someone seeking information on UFOs, for example, can quickly find material on antigravity, free energy, Atlantis studies, alternative cancer cures, and conspiracy. The consequence of such mingling is that an individual who enters the communications system pursuing one interest soon becomes aware of stigmatized material on a broad range of subjects. As a result, those who come across one form of stigmatized knowledge will learn of others, in connections that imply, that stigmatized knowledge is a unified domain, an alternative worldview, an alternate neuroreality, rather than a  collection of unrelated ideas.”

The apparently unrelated ideas are related by their exciting-secrets-revealed extremism, over the air and online, in paranormal and New Age and Christian and right-wing and left-wing political permutations. They form tactical alliances, interbreed, and hybridize, one thing leads to another, ways of thinking correlate and cluster. Believing in one type of fantasy tends to lead to believing in others. The major general who commanded the army's paranormal R&D unit starting in the late 1970s - personally attempting to levitate, to dematerialize, to pass through walls, and to mentally disperse clouds - later became a 9/11 truther who was certain that hijacked planes didn't bring down the towers or hit the Pentagon. And it's not only a matter of the patently ridiculous coexisting with the patently ridiculous. Seventy percent of the "spiritual" third of U.S. college students, for instance, also believe the untrue claim that “genetically modified food is dangerous to our health,” whereas among the "secular" third of college students, the majority know that GNO foods are safe to eat.

Academic research shows that religious belief leads people to think that almost nothing happens accidentally or randomly: as the authors of some recent cognitive science studies at Yale put it, "individuals' explicit religious and paranormal beliefs" are the main drivers of their exceptional “perception of purpose in life events," their tendency "to view the world in terms of agency, purpose, and design." Americans have believed for centuries that the country was inspired and guided by an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent planner and that He and His fellow beings from beyond are perpetually observing and manipulating us. That native religiosity has led since the 1960s both to our special interest in extraterrestrials and to a Third Worldly tendency to believe in conspiracies.

Those Yale researchers also found that believers in fate, religious and otherwise, include a large subset of "highly paranoid people" who “obsess over other people's hidden motives." In a paper called "Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion," based on years of survey research, two political scientists at the University of Chicago have confirmed this special American connection. "The likelihood of supporting conspiracy theories is strongly predicted," they concluded, by two key pieces of our national character that derive from our particular Christian culture: "a propensity to attribute the source of unexplained or extraordinary events to unseen, intentional forces" and a weakness for "melodramatic narratives as explanations for prominent events, particularly those that interpret history relative to

universal struggles between good and evil." In fact, they found the single strongest driver of conspiracy belief to be belief in end-time prophecies. Belief in things such as ghosts and psychic healing, also significantly predicted belief in five specific conspiracy theories," according to the Chicago research. In other words, supernatural belief is the great American gateway to conspiracy belief. What do you think of those neurorealities?

Whether an individual's conspiracism exists alongside religious faith, psychologically they're similar: a conspiracy theory can be revised and refined and further confirmed, but it probably can't ever be disproved to a true believer's satisfaction. The final conspiratorial nightmare crackdown is always right around the corner but never quite comes - as with the perpetually fast-approaching end-time. Like Christians certain both that evolution is a phony theory and that God created people a few thousand years ago, conspiracists are simultaneously credulous (about impossible plots) and incredulous (about the confusing, dull gray truth). Conspiracists often deride arguments against their theories as disinformation cooked up by the conspirators - the way some Christians consider evolutionary explanations to be the work of the devil.

A main argument of this book concerns how so many parts of American life have morphed into forms of entertainment. From 1980 to the end of the century, that tendency reached a tipping point in politics and the political discourse. First a Hollywood celebrity became a beloved president by

epitomizing and encouraging the blur between fiction and reality. Then talk radio and TV news turned into forms of politicized show business . And finally the Internet came along, making false beliefs both more real-seeming and more contagious, creating a kind of fantasy cascade in which millions of bedoozled Americans surfed and swam. Why did Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan begin remarking frequently during the 1980s and '90s that people were entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts? Because until then, it hadn't seemed like a serious problem in America.

With the Internet, our marketplace of ideas became exponentially bigger and freer than ever, it’s true. Thomas Jefferson said he'd rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it" - and it would all be okay because in the new United States "reason is left free to combat" every sort of "error of opinion”.  However, I'm inclined to think if he and our other democratic forefathers returned, they would see the present state of affairs as too much of a good thing. Reason remains free to combat unreason, but the Internet entitles and equips proponents of unreason and error to a previously unimaginable degree particularly for a people with our history and propensities, the downside - this proliferation and reinforcement of nutty ideas and false beliefs, this assembling of communities of the utterly deluded, this construction of parallel universes that look and feel perfectly real, the viral appeal of the untrue - seems at least as profound as the upside.

How’s your neuroreality?


The Problem with Fantasyland: From the 1980s to the Present and Beyond

In the early 1980s, following the disappearances and murders of Etan Patz in New York city, Adam Walsh in south Florida, and two dozen children in Atlanta, a national missing-children panic ignited. Congress passed a federal Missing children’s Act, and milk cartons were plastered with photographs of missing children. News media pegged the number of abductions at between 20,000 and 50,000 a year, with estimates up to the hundreds of thousands.

I had just become a writer for the national affairs section of Time, and one day I did some simple arithmetic concerning the missing-children problem. If the low-end figure was true, if twenty thousand American children really were abducted by strangers each year, it meant that in New York City alone a dozen children would be disappearing every week. I found it improbable. I called half a dozen urban police departments around the country and asked each one how many cases it had had in the previous year of children taken by strangers. One here, none there, a couple in the next place. By extrapolation, it seemed clear that the correct national number was possibly in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands, let alone tens of thousands. My editor at Time, however, declined to let me go forward with such a wildly skeptical story. A couple of years later some Denver Post reporters established that the vast majority of missing children were actually runaways or involved in parental custody disputes, and that the standard statistics were indeed exaggerated by orders of magnitude. They won a Pulitzer Prize. And indeed, a decade later the FBI estimated that the number of true kidnapping victims was no more than three hundred a year, most of whom were not murdered. The standard high-end figure of fifty thousand a year had been invented by Adam Walsh's father, who later admitted it was just his "guesstimate." The missing-children panic crested, but the myth became a permanent basis for a new American mode of anxious, frightened, overprotective parenting, and became part of the nation’s neuroreality, albeit, as stated above, grossly exaggerated and untrue.

Gun Crazy
Spectacular mass killings happen in America far more often than anywhere else, and not just because we make massacre-perfect weapons so easy to buy. Such killers are also engaged in role-play and are motivated by our besetting national dream of overnight fame. The experts say that most mass killers are not psychotics or paranoid schizophrenics in the throes of clinical delusion; rather, they're citizens of Fantasyland, unhappy people with flaws and failures they blame on others, the system, the elitists, the world. They worry those resentments into sensational fantasies of paramilitary vengeance and they know that acting out those fantasies will make a big splash and force the rest of us to pay attention to them for the first time. That’s a pretty shitty neuroreality.

Final Fantasy-Industrial Complex
Let me quote one more from Tolkien’s lecture, which he delivered a few months before the fantasy-besotted Nazi’s started World War II. “Fantasy can, of course, be carried to excess.  It can be put to evil uses. It may even delude the minds from which it came.”

Fantasyland, Chapter 22, continued...

"[You] in what we call the reality-based community. . . believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We create our own reality."

Karl Rove, senior advisor to president George W. Bush (2004)

"You're saying it's a falsehood. And..... our press secretary gave alternative facts."

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump (January 2017)