Thursday, July 7, 2016

Fact-checking in the era of "post-truth politics"

Truth. Integrity. Responsibility. All have been abandoned by our politicians and the glitzy media that is complicit in spreading their lies. And it's not just us in America. Brexit revealed the same trend in the UK.

James Kirchick speaks to the parallels between US and UK factless politics in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times (reprinted in the Daily Star).

Whether or not [Trump] can beat Hillary Clinton, Trump and Brexiteers have struck similar populist chords — namely, unease with globalization, immigration and elites. There’s also a deeper, and deeply worrying, phenomenon connecting the two: an utter disregard for facts. Call it “post-truth politics.”

The case for Brexit was predicated on three deceptions: that the EU threatens British democracy, destroys the country through unlimited immigration and holds back its economic potential.

All three are soundly debunked in Kirchick's op-ed. Most of Britain's laws are NOT written in Brussels. Britain has control over its immigration. And the vast majority of economists predicted that a Brexit would be an economic bust for Britain.

Confronted with these facts, however, Brexiteers didn’t wage much of a counterargument. “People in this country have had enough of experts,” declared Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a leading Brexit advocate.

Gove’s defiant anti-intellectualism sounds a lot like the post-modernist ramblings of Trump surrogate Jeffrey Lord, who, on CNN, recently derided the practice of fact-checking itself as an “out-of-touch, elitist media-type thing. I don’t think the people out in America care.”

In light of the vote, it’s fair to say that a large number of British people don’t. Let’s hope that those of us on this side of the pond, whether we live on the coasts or “out in America,” do.

But the evidence for America caring about facts is slim and getting slimmer. So one might well ask about the end point of post-truth politics. It is this: IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, one of the Party's slogans in George Orwell's novel 1984.

If we the people don't care about facts, then we the people can be conditioned to believe anything that Big Brother doles out.

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