Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Post Truth

We're hearing a lot in the media of late about Post Truth, or the advent of a milieu in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. I don't think this is a new phenomenon, it's just that increasing use of social media, which gives everyone an equal voice, is exposing the appalling, long-standing ignorance of science, literature, history, politics and economics within a large proportion of the population. That's evidenced by the number of people blithely sharing Facebook posts that are patently false or pander to popular prejudices, with no attempt whatsoever at verifying their contents - to coin a phrase, technology has allowed ignorance to go viral. Combine that with;

  1. the BBC bending over backwards to try and portray itself as impartial and giving the breath of legitimacy to all manner of crackpots without any critical investigation (fairness has superseded the search for truth), 
  2. irresponsibly poor newspaper journalism, where important news comes from about three outlets worldwide and stories are no longer investigated for veracity as there's no money in truth (and the remainder comprises celebrity dross and idolisation), and 
  3. demagogues, adept at manipulating emotion, riding the crest of this wave of exposed ignorance by getting people to angrily reject facts, 

and the result is everything being dumbed down to the point of banality for consumption by the lowest common denominator, having little desire to think or engage in any form of critical analysis. Opprobrium is heaped on the educated and they're labelled, sneeringly, as elites by those who espouse and promote anti-intellectualism.

To quote Steve Allen (who was talking about religion, but it applies equally to other areas)  - "The problem is that once the untrained mind has made a formal commitment to a (religious) philosophy— and it does not matter whether that philosophy is generally reasonable and high-minded or utterly bizarre and irrational— the powers of reason are surprisingly ineffective in changing the believer's mind."


  1. Wow! That just about covers my views on Global Warming and Brexit. Just for good measure comedy, even good comedy, does not make some peoples views or beliefs wrong.

  2. People often can't be reasoned out of a position they didn't use reason to acquire in the first place.