Forty years ago, Doctor Who aired an episode where the Doctor cautioned his soon-to-be companion Leela all about the dangers of people altering facts to “fit their views.” Huh, now where does that sound familiar?
It’s the 40th anniversary of the classic Doctor Who episode “The Face of Evil Part 4.” The episode, which aired January 22, 1977, is all about the Doctor trying to make peace between two warring tribes, the primitive Sevateem and the technically brilliant Tesh. After Xoanon, a computer who the Sevateem worship as a god, takes control of Leela’s mind, the Doctor breaks her trance through hypnosis. But not before reminding her, and the audience, how hard some people work to convince themselves or others that there are five lights.
“You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common,” the Doctor said. “They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.”
One more time, for the people in the back.
One of the Doctor’s finest moments – from an episode shown 40 years ago today. Fancy that. pic.twitter.com/neU9Et3d0B— Nicholas Pegg (@NicholasPegg) January 22, 2017
Kellyanne Conway, in an interview on Meet the Press, recently declared that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer wasn’t lying when he said that President Donald Trump’s inauguration was the most-attended one in history (it wasn’t). Rather, she said Spicer was sharing “alternative facts.” He wasn’t, he was lying.
Calling something “alternative” is another way of swerving around the truth in order to serve a narrative. It’s a tactic that’s already been used to try and disguise white nationalism as “alternative right,” and will likely be used again to justify more lies and bigotry. Luckily, the Doctor is smarter than that. Hopefully we are too.