Now that George Orwell's novel "1984," with its talk of "newspeak" and "doublethink," is climbing bestseller lists again, someone seems bent on defining perhaps the most memorable phrase yet to emerge from the Trump administration: "alternative facts."
A person or persons unknown has bought the site alternativefacts.com and redirected it to a Psychology Today article on gaslighting.
The dispute over the definition of the word "facts" began when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer took news organizations to task for running photos that showed that more people attended the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 than attended that of Donald Trump on Jan. 20.
Spicer claimed in his briefing the day after the event that Trump had attracted "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe." Spicer later said he was not only talking about the crowds in Washington, D.C., but also people viewing on television and streaming video online.
The day after that, Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, defended Spicer. She told "Meet the Press" that Spicer had provided "alternative facts" — a phrase that has drawn some derision.
"Gaslighting," the Pyschology Today article says, "is a tactic of behavior in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. ... It is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders."
Among the techniques used by people who gaslight, according to the article, are these: "They tell you blatant lies," and "They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof."
The term comes from a 1938 play called "Gaslight, which was made into a movie in 1944. The plot centers on a woman whose husband manipulates her into thinking she's going insane. Ingrid Bergman was awarded the best actress Oscar for her performance as the wife.