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Epistemic Reserve Notes

The metaphor of learning-as-purchasing pervades language — “are you buyin’ this?”

There must be some kind of currency exchanged when you accept something new.

As explored in Wittgenstein’s Revenge, the problem in modern public discourse is not that we disagree on the facts.

Instead, we lack a common “epistemic currency.”

Perhaps facts used to be our epistemic currency, but facts may have been a proxy for something more fundamental: Trust.

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Wittgenstein’s Revenge

We treat facts like they’re “atoms of truth” — small, indivisible, solid — and if you add them up, you get “big truths.”

But like atoms, facts are mostly empty space, and the closer we examine them, the less solidity we find.

It may be time to graduate from the metaphor of facts completely, to a metaphor that reflects a healthier relationship between truth and people.

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