Post-Truth

Front Cover
MIT Press, Feb 16, 2018 - Philosophy - 216 pages

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.”

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. 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 people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - susannapathak - LibraryThing

Excellent definitions. Cognitive theory types were explained. Social media is anti-truth. Analysis of postmodernism was a bit of a stretch. There are other cultural factors that explain feeling over fact mentality. Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

For its rigorous dissection, Post-Truth by Lee McIntyre, is the best book I’ve read in the last year. This volume offers so much in an economy of words. Post- Truth is defined as the contention that "feelings are more accurate than facts" and this is used to subordinate reality for political end. p.174 "False equivalence" is the idea that there are always "two sides of an issue even when there are not two credible sides." Included are discussions of the dangers and human costs of post-truth: the "yellow journalism" of the 1890's (The Spanish-American War), Big Tobacco's decades-long deceit, vaccines (2015), and the continuing climate crisis. McIntyre's study is accompanied by meticulous footnotes, a bibliography, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading. I've long awaited a scholarly treatment of this subject. I recommend this book to those in search of mental clarity. Scott E.  

Contents

1 WHAT IS POSTTRUTH?
1
2 SCIENCE DENIAL AS A ROAD MAP FOR UNDERSTANDING POSTTRUTH
17
3 THE ROOTS OF COGNITIVE BIAS
35
4 THE DECLINE OF TRADITIONAL MEDIA
63
5 THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE PROBLEM OF FAKE NEWS
89
6 DID POSTMODERNISM LEAD TO POSTTRUTH?
123
7 FIGHTING POSTTRUTH
151
GLOSSARY
173
NOTES
175
BIBLIOGRAPHY
195
FURTHER READINGS
205
INDEX
207
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
224
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2018)

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. He is the author of Dark Ages: The Case for a Science of Human Behavior and Post-Truth, both published by the MIT Press.

Bibliographic information