Post-Truth (MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)

by Lee McIntyre

Paperback, 2018


MIT Press (2018), 236 pages


"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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member susannapathak
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.
LibraryThing member reenum
I'm a huge fan of the Very Short Introductions series, and this new series by the MIT Press may be a worthy companion. This book definitely meets the standard of the best of the VSI books.

McIntyre brings together the history and philosophy of truth. He then compares these historical benchmarks to
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the concept of post-truth that became a hot topic in Trump's America.

The solutions offered are not revolutionary: vet the source and analyze it critically.

Still, this is a good introduction to the series and I recommend it.
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LibraryThing member Brendon-Norton
Fascinating history of how intentional manipulation of cognitive biases, science denialism, and postmodernity have combined to bring us the era of "Pizzagate," "stolen elections," and "replacement theory."

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