What is ‘post-truth’ and what can we do about it?

The Oxford Dictionary named ‘post-truth’ as its word of the year in 2016, but what is ‘post-truth’, what can we do about it, and what significance do terms like this and the ever popular emerging ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ mean for the changing expectations and engagement of our society?

At a panel debate held by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) entitled ‘Post-truth: what is it and what can we do about it’, panellists James Ball (Buzzfeed, and author of forthcoming book on ‘post-truth’), Tracey Brown (Sense about Science), Will Moy (Full Fact), Helen Margetts (Oxford Internet Institute), and Chair Hetan Shah (RSS), debated this new phenomenon.

The good use of evidence and statistics in public debate is hugely important and the EU referendum and the American election are both examples of where the political misuse of statistics and facts has become commonplace. The panel discussed what is ‘post-truth’, and whether or not there is something genuinely new about our current era, or if this is a new word about the same old age problem? Moving forwards, the panellists sought to seek an action plan around what can be done to ensure that statistics, facts and evidence always form part of a balanced debate in the media and politics.

Watch the full debate here:

‘Post-truth: what is it and what can we do about it?’ was held by the RSS in association with Sense about Science, Full Fact and the Oxford Internet Institute, on the 7th of February 2017.

Partners in the mission to ensure researchers are fully equipped to tackle the data and research challenges of the future, SAGE are delighted to be supporting and engaging in debates such as the ones spearheaded by the RSS. Find out more about the event here.

Looking for an easy way to spot fake news? Download this free checklist from CQ Press.

     
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