We are living in the era of “post-truth”. People in this country have had enough of experts, apparently. Instead, we are offered alternative facts, fake news, social media echo chambers, dodgy statistics and outright lies. With a tsunami of information coming at us from every direction, citizen journalism, e-petitions and blogs, we are more politically engaged than ever; but when politicians and the media tell us their truth, we just don’t buy it any more.
How did it come to this? To the chattering classes, recent political events have come as a shock, while the voters wonder: why haven’t they been listening? Politicians and journalists live, work and play together in an insulated London bubble. They went to the same schools. They share the same top jobs. They’re completely out of touch with how the other half lives.
Meanwhile, the internet helps a lie to get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on. Investigative reporting is in the doldrums, while fake news is spread for free online. But if we are all journalists now, what responsibility do we have to check sources, to educate ourselves, and to pay for news? How do we stay reliably informed in a world where truth is supposedly a thing of the past?
In Not Buying It, Charlotte Henry looks at the facts behind fake news, talking to the major players in politics and media, old and new. She also talks to voters and thinkers from outside the media bubble, to provide context, explanation, and, crucially, solutions. “Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of 2016. This year, let’s start getting the truth back.
As has become customary in our hyper-networked age, the clip spread around the globe almost instantly. The phrase stuck. It stuck not just because what Conway saying was clearly ridiculous, but also because the phrase perfectly summed up the era in which we are living.
This is an age in which expertise is seen as elitist and not to be trusted. In one of the lowest points of the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, the Leave campaigner Michael Gove, a hyper-intelligent bookworm, declared that “the British people have had enough of experts…”
It is an age in which the truth is up for grabs, and facts are no longer sacred.
This piece was originally published by the think tank Bright Blue. The piece outlines some of the research and thinking in Not Buying It, which you can pledge and support here.
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To those of you who have already pledged to get your copy of "Not Buying It", and those who are about to pledge (yes, that's you isn't it?!) thank you very much. The book is taking shape thanks to your support.
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