The election of Donald Trump has ignited talk that we’re now living in a “post-truth” era. But are we? Where does the idea that the truth no longer exists come from? Or the notion that the truth doesn’t matter anymore? Host Paul Kennedy talks to thinkers who argue that the story began years earlier, with a kind of collective identity crisis: authoritarianism can become attractive when you no longer remember who you are.
“‘Post-truth’ is often understood as involving people’s emotions rather than their critical abilities to make distinctions. And I think that might be true but i think it’s important to keep in mind that emotion and truth are not two different things. Emotion has to do with what we care about and truths have to do with things that are the case. The two have to work together.” — Kathleen Higgins
People from all over are asking the question: how did we get here? In a world where technological advances spread to the masses at astonishing speed; in a time when we can be instantly connected to one another; in an era when information can travel around the globe in a flash, have we become less concerned with the verifiability of what we believe as long as it conforms to our point of view?
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And if the truth is atomized to the point where I can have my truth and you can have yours, then how can any of us actually have a conversation? Without a basic set of assumptions about what’s true, we have no starting point for the debates we engage in. But maybe this is simply, as they say, the “new normal” — that when it comes to the truth, where you stand depends on where you sit.
Guests in this episode:
- Henry Giroux is a professor of English and cultural studies at McMaster University.
- Jason Stanley is a professor of philosophy at Yale University.
- Kathleen Higgins is a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.
- America at War with Itself by Henry Giroux, published by City Lights Books, 2015.
- How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley, published by Princeton University Press, 2015.
- Post-Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed by Kathleen Higgins, Nature, November 28, 2016.
- Post-Truth Pluralism by Kathleen Higgins.
- On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt.
- Politics and the English Language by George Orwell.
- Misinformation and How to Correct It, Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences by John Cook, Ulrich Ecker, and Stephan Lewandowsky.
- The Price of Denialism by Lee McIntyre, New York Times, November 7, 2015.
- Consequences: In a Post-Truth World, Scientific Progress Goes Boink by Stewart Lyman, January 17, 2017.
**This episode was produced by Naheed Mustafa.