The era of ‘post-truth’

fakenews
I was appalled to hear a politician talking the other day about ‘the post-truth era’ in relation to all the hoo-hah going on across the pond about Trump’s protestations regarding fake news.

‘Post-truth’ is not a new phenomenon. Wikipedia defines it as “a culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.” It’s been going on for years and, ironically, it has taken the ascendancy to the presidency of a man who does the exact opposite to bring it to a head.

You might not like Trump, but the fact is that when he was campaigning he promised, amongst other things, to build a ‘great big beautiful wall’ across the Mexican border, suspend immigration from countries linked to terrorism ‘until we figure out what the hell is going on’ and to repeal Obamacare. He did all three of these in his first week and people are up in arms about it even though he did exactly what he said he was going to do – something unheard of in the era of post truth politics.

I remember recently having a spat with a fellow blogger about Cuba. Whatever I said made no difference. His opinion was his opinion no matter how I rebutted his arguments and answered his direct questions. He regards me as a pig he was trying to teach to sing. This is a classic reaction to post truth. The ‘facts’ I was being shown were to say the least unsubstantiated and politically motivated. They may well have been true, but the truth is that nobody really knows and if they were true then the reaction was still emotional rather than rational.

During the Brexit campaign we were constantly fed unsubstantiated opinion and speculation presented as truth. In the end, Project Fear turned out to be wholesalely wrong, but that didn’t prevent organisations like the BBC – which used to pride itself on being politically unbiased – presenting it as truth. We see the media across the globe doing exactly the same thing.

And now fake news is bring weaponised in all sorts of fields, political, diplomatic, and economic. Listen to CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Russia Today relating the same news story and you get totally contradictory presentation of the so called facts. I suspect that none of them are actually presenting facts at all – just opinions and spin. As a wise man once said – ‘There are three sides to every story : your’s, mine and the truth!

Facts are facts. The problem is that nobody actually knows what they are any more…

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5 responses to “The era of ‘post-truth’

  1. I agree. May I add the following? it seems to me that what is referred to as “Main Stream Media” have for a long time suppressed information or “spun” “the truth” to their own ends. This is, in fact, the classic example of this are “Syrian refugee children” who are, patently, 29 year old afghan men. But that is what is said. Other examples are describing Somali migrants as “Norwegian passport holders”, and so forth. And people recognise this, and are heartily sick of it. And so there is a fight back, largely on social media. news is spread informally. People share information. And this is something the Establishment regards as dangerous. One solution is to label this as “post truth”. And to be sure, because the internet is what it is, there are rumours and mistakes. But the larger picture is that the biggest “post truth” machines are the BBC, CNN and Sky.

  2. The BBC still prides itself on being unbiased. The truth is irrelevant.

  3. My 9 year old granddaughter asked me what I thought about Trump- because “Mummy says he is a racist” . I asked her whether she would prefer to choose who lived with her in her house or just to let everyone in. She decided to choose…

  4. Adam Steinberg

    You say “the presidency of a man who does the exact opposite [of lying].” It is true that some of the populist ideas of Donald Trump were whirlwinded into effect upon his ascendancy. But it is also true he lies, and lies, and lies, and lies. Just because he tried to build the wall does not mean he does not lie or mislead an average perhaps five times PER DAY. Here’s just one recent discussion about it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/11/23/donald-trump-is-constantly-lying/?utm_term=.9ba0f885dece Here’s a list: https://www.thestar.com/news/world/uselection/2016/11/04/donald-trump-the-unauthorized-database-of-false-things.html#analysis These articles don’t even begin to scratch the surface, for example if you look at his many hypocrisies; today’s alone is allowing Melania to visit Saudi Arabia with no headscarf after criticizing Michelle Obama for the same thing a few years ago. If you are so willfully unaware of this aspect of the man sitting in the White House, I don’t know how to help you.

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