the lifespan of a fact

The Lifespan of a Fact,by John D’Agata, author. Jim Fingal, fact-checker.

I heard about this book from a podcast out of Wisconsin, TTBOOK. Listen to the interview if you have a few minutes. But you might be wondering what this has to do with bureauphiles. Well, lots of our government’s time, and energy, all joking aside, is spent checking facts before government publications are published. As an intelligence analyst I spent days double and triple checking reports before they were “sent forward” for review and action upon my recommendations.But working at GAO is where I spent the most time checking facts. All words in GAO reports have been fact-checked. What Lifespan of a Fact distills so clearly is the back and forth regarding facts. A friend once spent hours trying to find original support for the assertion that the F-22 is the Raptor…hours. I spent time citing the Periodic Table of Elements to prove that Na was indeed sodium. The flip side of this obsessive compulsive checking is that the information is reliable.

What is somewhat disappointing about the book is that it is apparently some kind of meta commentary on the nature of fact checking. The book itself, while publicized as nonfiction, is actually fiction.

So check out the book if you want to read some entertaining, yet apparently not entirely factual, insanity…and pull your hair out a bit.

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