The first time I encountered the term “post-truth” I thought it was satire. Then there came “alternative facts.” “Facts” became what anyone wanted to say they are. “Alternative facts” have become the foundation and building blocks of a prevailing political ideology. It should not be surprising that “death of the expert” was a necessary supporting development in this populist ideology and political climate. Experts deal in things like facts, actual facts, not alternative ones, and in actual knowledge, an advanced degree of which has come through extensive study and/or prolonged experience, in whatever the topic may be.
Well, the experts don’t know everything, do they? This is not at all a new defiant rejection of facts, knowledge, and expert informed opinion, but it has become mainstream. So one person’s opinion is as good as another’s, right? After all, it “just” opinion. To try to argue either of these is a pointless trip into frustration. To point out that if you are sick, you want an educated informed doctor’s opinion, or if in legal distress, the informed “opinion” of an attorney.
Our society, country, has become divided over what might once have been called “mere opinion” though it could be argued there is nothing “mere” about where we are and what has happened to get us here. As I write this in June, 2019, the “experts” that deal in facts, knowledge, and sound information have been somewhat pushed back into their chairs to wonder in disbelief. From scientist to journalist, the peddlers of alternative facts have displaced them in the arena of public opinion. As so it seems reasonable to so that chant such mantras as “the experts don’t know everything,” and more sinister, the experts are just out to trick us and take advantage of us and do us harm.
“Post-truth” has become a described phenomenon, and if dear reader has not yet informed themselves about it, a trip on your browser to search the term might be interesting.
On my reading wish list for this summer:
Post-Truth (MIT Essential knowledge series)
The Truth Matters
A citizen’s guide to separating facts from lies and stopping fake news.
Weaponized lies” How to think critically in the post-truth era
Daniel J Levitin