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In virtually any situation appeal to the facts, to what really happened and what is only invention, can be a powerful device. Factual accounting is the stuff of arcane scientific disputes over whether neutrinos have been detected, of mundane domestic conflict over who last washed the dishes, and of ideological concern as particular versions of the economy are assembled and undermined. Descriptions are so bound up with our lives that virtually any conversation includes reports of events and actions. We read newspapers and watch television programmes which overflow with real life stories and varied factual claims. Factual reports are a commonplace currency of occupations as varied as doctors, teachers, engineers and police officers. And fiction, too, ironically but interestingly, is full of realist description ...

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