Post-Truth (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)
a book by Lee McIntyre
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that the book is about How we arrived in a post-truth era, when “alternative facts” replace actual facts, and feelings have more weight than evidence.
Are we living in a post-truth world, where “alternative facts” replace actual facts and feelings have more weight than evidence? How did we get here? In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Lee McIntyre traces the development of the post-truth phenomenon from science denial through the rise of “fake news,” from our psychological blind spots to the public's retreat into “information silos.”
A filter bubble (pictured) is intellectual isolation due to websites displaying only what they think you want to see—the same information isolation is caused by the public's retreat into information silos
What, exactly, is post-truth? Is it wishful thinking, political spin, mass delusion, bold-faced lying? McIntyre analyzes recent examples—claims about inauguration crowd size, crime statistics, and the popular vote—and finds that post-truth is an assertion of ideological supremacy by which its practitioners try to compel someone to believe something regardless of the evidence. Yet post-truth didn't begin with the 2016 election; the denial of scientific facts about smoking, evolution, vaccines, and climate change offers a road map for more widespread fact denial. See:
- The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It
- The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature
- Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science
Add to this the wired-in cognitive biases that make us feel that our conclusions are based on good reasoning even when they are not, the decline of traditional media and the rise of social media, and the emergence of fake news as a political tool, and we have the ideal conditions for post-truth. McIntyre also argues provocatively that the right wing borrowed from postmodernism—specifically, the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth—in its attacks on science and facts.
McIntyre argues that we can fight post-truth, and that the first step in fighting post-truth is to understand it. "What is striking about the idea of post-truth is not just that truth is being challenged, but that it is being challenged as a mechanism for asserting political dominance."
Truth—rest in peace
- Fake News, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies: How to Find Trustworthy Information in the Digital Age
- Fake News: How Propaganda Influenced the 2016 Election, A Historical Comparison to 1930's Germany
- The True Story of Fake News: How Mainstream Media Manipulates Millions
- The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote
- Fake News in Real Context
- Fighting Fake News!: Teaching Critical Thinking and Media Literacy in a Digital Age
- American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News
- Fake News and Alternative Facts: Information Literacy in a Post-Truth Era
Colbert explained the origin of his word as: "Truthiness is a word I pulled right out of my keister." It gives one pause about using the word—ever. Nothing good ever came out of Stephen Colbert's keister (except truthiness)
McIntyre says that "[In the term post-truth], they underline that the prefix 'post' is meant to indicate not so much the idea that we are 'past' truth in a temporal sense (as in 'postwar') but in the sense that truth has been eclipsed—that it is irrelevant. These are fighting words to many philosophers, but it is worth noting that this is much more than an academic dispute. In 2005, Stephen Colbert coined the term 'truthiness' (defined as being persuaded by whether something feels true, even if it is not necessarily backed up by the facts) . . . When the term was coined, 'truthiness' was treated as a big joke, but people aren’t laughing anymore. . . . many see post-truth as part of a growing international trend where some feel emboldened to try to bend reality to fit their opinions."
No wonder we have flat earthers and climate change deniers in 2018.
No wonder we have flat earthers and climate change deniers in 2018: postmodernism says that there is no such thing as objective truth
Remedies suggested by McIntyre are attacking untruth where it occurs, don't assume that people couldn't believe it, flood the people with the truth (people have a saturation point where the facts finally sink in), and remember that graphs and pictures can be more persuasive than narrative.
Let's hope the climate change deniers don't put off remedies until it is too late
Remember that graphs and pictures can be more persuasive than narrative—THIS will give scientists nightmares
And THIS dystopian prediction will give both scientists and non-scientists nightmares
Post-Truth (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) is full of insights into our current predicament in which large portions of the world believe that emotions matter more than facts. This explains the Trumpworld phenomenon wherein tens of millions of people support a sexist, racist, xenophobic liar known for grabbing women by their hoo-hahs.
Trumpworld has a phenomenon wherein tens of millions of people support a sexist, racist, xenophobic liar known for grabbing women by their hoo-hahs
Trumpworld is a place wherein tens of millions of people support a sexist, racist, xenophobic liar (known for grabbing women by their hoo-hahs) just because he manipulates their emotions to feel like he'll take care of them
Trumpworld is a place wherein tens of millions of people support a sexist, racist, xenophobic liar (known for grabbing women by their hoo-hahs) just because he manipulates their emotions to feel like he'll take care of them in spite of a vast array of evidence that he's taking care of the rich, and himself, and his family, but screwing over the nonrich. See Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class—And What We Can Do about It.
Trumpworld is a place wherein tens of millions of people are getting screwed by Trump, and yet they keep supporting him. Curiouser and curiouser . . .
Trumpworld is a place wherein tens of millions of people are getting screwed by Trump, and yet they keep supporting him. Their opinions of him should be shrinking, but instead they're growing taller. Curiouser and curiouser . . .
Those people that are considered "post-truth" don't deny facts, but instead they merely believe that facts are subordinate to political points of view. In our era of increased political polarization, this reality warping is a big problem. Facts that are seen as inconvenient are often disregarded as being politically biased.
Post-Truth (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) is a call to action to believe in truth and facts again, like we used to
In Trumpworld, citizens see the Trump they need to see, not the Trump that is—they wear rose-colored glasses
Most of us see Trump as 6ft 2in tall but his base in Trumpworld sees him as 10 feet tall—he's YUGE
"McIntyre's enumerated suggestions on how we must all be our own fact checkers in this post-truth age should be taped to the computer keyboard of every journalist, politician, and reader in America, before the next election."—Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine
"McIntyre's book is perhaps the most thoughtful of the post-truth set....[He] argues persuasively that our methods of ascertaining truth—not just the facts themselves—are under attack, and that this assault is especially dangerous."—Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post
"Russian dissident Masha Gessen offers an important insight as to why Donald Trump seems so comfortable lying, even when he can easily be disproven. Trump does not lie because he believes what he is saying to be true nor to change the minds of others. Gessen argues; he lies to assert power. . . . In this, Trump has learned the lesson of countless dictators and strongmen across the ages, a lesson that could be well taught by his opposite number in Russia, Vladimir Putin. Real power does not need the consent of the governed. One need not worry about changing others' beliefs . . . when one can dominate their reality. . . . This is why post-truth is so dangerous. . . . Post-truth is the first step towards authoritarian rule." (Source: Why Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin lie... and why they are so good at it: Post-truth is the first step toward authoritarian rule, Lee McIntyre, New Statesman)
Okay Vladi, you old dog, I lead or you bleed—got it? Okay Donny, whatever, dude! (Jeez—he's so bossy!)
Trump insists that you respect his authoritah!