In this new world we live in full of “alternate facts” and “fake news”, it’s important to remember that facts matter. So do statistics.
This doesn’t just apply to politics. There’s a statistic that Craig Mazin worked out on the Scriptnotes podcast once that it’s statistically less probable to become a working screenwriter than a professional football player. Check out this sign that was posted on Twitter:
— Scott Carter (@GatorsScott) September 7, 2015
So out of >1M high school football players, 300 rookies make an NFL team each year.
Why does it matter? Because if you’re starting out on your way to becoming a professional, working screenwriter, especially in features, you need to know it’s not an easy road. Rather, it’s an intensely difficult path fraught with competition, obstacles, gate-keepers, and vultures…probably.
Facts and stats matter. They give you much-needed perspective and clarity when approaching a topic you want to form an opinion about, say, inauguration size, or something similar.
It’s generally accepted that being “right”, e.g. knowing the facts, is a good quality, as long as you’re not smug about it. There’s a quote I love from a man named Ezra Taft Benson:
“Be right, but be easy to live with. Preferably in that order.”
As I’ve spent more time on social media the last few weeks, mainly because of the political landscape, I’ve noticed many touting the “death of facts”, and entering into a “post-truth” world. Heck, it was even the word of the year.
It’s a scary thought, facts not mattering, being replaced in popularity and persuasion power by feelings and opinions. Facts and stats are easily available, what with this thing called the internet. I don’t understand why people refuse to get the facts before they open their mouths, or tweet to the masses.
Facts matter. Words matter. We can be better, and we should strive to be so.