@bryan - Yes, one could say that but that was obviously not how I used to word and it does not relate the problem being discussed above either, nor does it relate to why it's considered such a problem in current events.
If the pint glass is half empty and people can go and look at the glass and see how much water is in there, then an alternative fact to saying that it's half empty/half full (any reasonable person would consider this to be the same thing) is to say that "the pint glass is completely full" or "empty"---which is indisputably wrong to anyone looking. The problem at issue here is not one of nitpicking for lack of word definitions either; something which would be an entirely sophomoric discussion. If that was the problem, one can easily ask for clarification, for example:
Fact: "The boiling point of water is 100 degrees at one atmosphere"
Question: "Fahrenheit or Celcius?"
Question: "Whose atmosphere? Earth or Mars"
Clarification: "Earth or 101325Pa"
Question: "What do you mean by BP?"
Clarification: "When the water turns to steam"
Question: "More exactly?"
Clarification: "When the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the surrounding pressure"
While one may ask for ever more clarification, it seems that at some point there would be sufficient agreement on the definitions. Then reasonable people (<- people using reason as a heuristic) should be able to agree. Actually, I would rather that people "just be adults about it" and get on the same page about basic conventions (like what words mean in the dictionary or common parlance) sooner rather than later. I think it should be possible to infer the technical context based on the 'Fact' as stated based on that alone ... so we avoid wasting time on the technical definitions because ultimately they don't matter to the 'Fact' as stated. IOW ... if it's not clear wrt this 'Fact' that I'm operating under the metric system on planet Earth ... then you're almost surely just being argumentative for the sole purpose of being argumentative.
Alternative fact: "I agree with all the clarifications but I say the boiling point is 700 degrees or infinitely tremendous".
To which a reasonable person would ask: "What planet are you on?" because it's clearly not this one. There's just no way to get 700 under the constraints/definitions specified above; because we will all share a common reality sooner or later.
The point here is that "alt-news" is not news insofar that news refers to things that actually happened. If news becomes redefined to refer to random stories one comes across ... then sure, alt-news is news, but then "news" under the new definition (made up stories) doesn't really mean the same as news under the old definition (things that actually happened). In other words, alt-news is properly classified under "entertainment" ... it has nothing to do with news classified as information even if "news" shares four letters with "alt-news".
Same deal with the word fact... EITHER fact means "a statement that can be verified with experiments or another commonly accepted method" (like the boiling point of water) OR fact just means "random statements that anyone can make which doesn't need true or in any way connected to reality" which pretty much renders the word fact meaningless. Those two are definitely not equivalent under any measure. Very different standards apply.
Anyone who thinks reality is irrelevant eventually suffers the consequences of that belief when the real world catches up.
The very reason that everybody is now talking about "alternative facts" is of course that some people have used the word "fact" in the latter sense a little too much/freely. Therefore some other people now desire to create a new word to distinguish the two [very different] concepts. Whereas yet other people now think the two concepts are the same. I expect the last two groups to further separate/stop talking to each other going forward. At that point each will be in their own boat but still on the same sea. It'll be interesting to see how that goes. A lot of people are starting to wash their hands of the other side on both sides. DSKla's rightly, I think, pointed out that the policy-recommendations in Mann's book were half-assed. I kinda agree with that. There's almost no way that we're actually going to achieve the 2C goals that are being pushed. In between the physics and the politicians (the executive summary), things get translated into what politicians think they can sell... there's a gap between where the world is going in reality and where it's willing to go politically. So the people trying for reconciliation is understandably some of the more optimistic amongst the highly informed ones thinking that politics will eventually snap into reality somehow. The rest are more inclined to look out for #1 being disgusted with the whole process---Which is also where I side/plan for.
@7wb5 - In the old days there were a lot more checks and balances demanding that people "had to be at least this smart to ride this ride". Therefore debates were more stratified ensuring that people were interacting/debating with people more or less within their own [intellectual] "weight class". Previously, in order to discuss science at a high or current level, you pretty much had to be a senior grad-student or beyond because it took that long to work your way into the required level of complexity (3000+ hours)---and you'd be talking to profs and other grads. Undergraduates would discuss it at a mid level usually lagging 2-3 decades behind current research because it hadn't made it into the textbooks yet. (So 100 hours/class) They'd talk to other undergrads, etc. and indulgent profs. High-schoolers would talk popularized non-fiction (Brian Greene and string theory anyone?) with lots of opinion substituting for equations or scientific arguments (resembling this thread---the original climate thread was slightly better but still focused on repeated debunking of bs arguments some of which were decades old, the record being just over a century
) (10 hours). And laymen just had a vague idea that the subject existed (10 minutes -- 1hr).
Now, social media has connected everybody with everybody. And google et al has made it easy to search for an opinion or factoid given a few keywords and appear that one knows what one is talking about, at least to non-experts (meta or domain). So discussion became open-weight, at least for a while (~1985-2015 ... from 100% in the early days to 0% towards the end --- about one generation's worth, specifically GenX/Boomer who were the two dominant species on the internet in these years). In my case, I eventually grew frustrated with this. On the other hand, that was a new skill to learn. I've started a few threads in the past 2-3 years about Mt Stupid, Dunning-Kruger, etc. which mostly reflected this learning process for me. So the idea was/is pretty much to quickly learn who you're talking to when lacking the old sorting framework. I have a system with two axes now. On one axis, I have expertise from -1000 to 10000+ hrs---I also allow for negative-hours now in the sense that the person may be actively misinformed having spent time learning things that are wrong. The other axis ranges from propensity of or for "learning" to "debating". Just like always, assessing where someone is makes interacting with them much more effective because one knows how to talk to them ... what they respond to, what they ignore, etc. I asses the Wheaton level ... both in terms of willingness to change one's mind (learn vs debate) and technical acumen. If it's too far removed ... I ignore. I don't think I'm the only one who figured this out. In fact, I think I was rather slow at it. It's not like debate or scientific discourse disappeared ... it's just when it comes to climate science, it's not found on this forum. It's found elsewhere. The level of debate in this thread so far is much closer to the climate science analogy of whether water ever boils at all if it's heated far enough. Or equivalently if everybody from planet Krypton can fly.