Reality-based community

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The phrase "reality-based community" first appeared in an October 17, 2004 New York Times article by Ron Suskind titled "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush".

It apparently originated as a derisive term: Suskind quoted a member of the Bush administration who used the phrase to refer to the community of people who did not buy into the notion that Bush and his team were able to create their own reality. Unsurprisingly, the intended targets of the slur instantly embraced it as a badge of honor: they began to describe themselves with the phrase "a proud member of the reality-based community".

The full quote read:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
—Unnamed White House aide[1]

The quote was subsequently widely attributed to Karl Rove.[2][3]

Apart from the introduction of the phrase "reality-based community", the quote is also interesting in that it highlights the fact that the kind of people with whom the reality-based community is being contrasted — messianists who believe themselves to be on a mission from God[4] — do not believe that "solutions emerge from (the) judicious study of discernible reality".[note 1]

See also[edit]

  • Brexit - "People are tired of experts", says Michael Rove Gove. (Because they use witchcraft like "facts" and "logic" to draw conclusions rather than pull it out of their asses.)


  1. A humanities professor at an R1 university in the American South considers the aide's use of postmodern anti-foundationalism and admission of hegemony not only ironic, but also entertaining.