Post-truth

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For the exact opposite, see truth.
The problem is the oversupply of facts in the 21st century: There are too many sources, too many methods, with varying levels of credibility, depending on who funded a given study and how the eye-catching number was selected.
—William Davies from The New York Times[1]

Post-truth (a.k.a. Post-truth politics[2]) is a political culture that focuses more on appeal to emotion and other logical fallacies — instead of factual investigation and reporting — that sways the public's opinion,[2] and is used all across the spectrum, from wingnuts to moonbats and everywhere in between.

The first known usage of the word "post-truth" was in 1992 by Steve Tesich writing for The Nation regarding the Iran-Contra scandal and the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War.[2][3] Oxford Dictionaries named "post-truth" as the word of the year for 2016 because of "a spike in frequency this year in the context of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom and the presidential election in the United States."[2]

The philosopher Daniel Dennett has stated that postmodernism is responsible for the modern rise of post-truthism,[4] but post-truthism has been around for a long time in the form of fake news antecedents and totalitarianism,[5] so at best postmodernism is just one cause of modern post-truthism; arguably, it's part of the reason we're now able to so quickly recognise it.

A shift to individual-based authoritarianism[edit]

In a Saturday Night LiveWikipedia's W.svg sketch, featuring Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton:[6]

Baldwin: Why are you defending her, Erin? [To network interviewer in the sketch].

Baldwin: Are you a lez with her? Because I’ve heard from a lot of people that you’re lezzing her?

Interviewer: That doesn’t even make sense.

Baldwin: It doesn’t matter, Erin, because I said it. And now half the country believes it.

Media outlets in the 2010s focus on the opinions of the individual, rather agencies that put in hours and hours of researched material. People such as Alex Jones and Donald Trump are excellent examples of knowledge sources that are individual focused. This type of media asks more of one's own individual identity than mere reading of statistics or stories — note the instances of personal pronouns in the Alex Jones quote:

I'm a pioneer, I'm an explorer! I'm a human and I'm comin'! I'm animated, I'm alive! My heart's big, it's got hot blood going through it fast! I like to fight too! I like to eat! I like to have children! I'm here! I got a life force, this is a human, this is what we look like, this is what we act like! This is what everybody was like before us! This is what I am, I'm a throwback, I'm here! I got the fire of human liberty. I'm setting fire's everywhere, and humans are turning on everywhere!
—Alex Jones going fucking crazy[7][8]

Opinionated media has a strong relationship with individual-based media. Individual-based media asks of one's own mind. This has a stark contrast to group media, which focuses on peer review and a collective effort. According to Time magazine:[9][10]

Traditional media outlets know that they're losing audience to online media and organizations like Fox, which encourage the kind of outspokenness and first-person voices that poker-faced news pages and evening newscasts have long repressed. They're caught between the old paradigm of journalism, in which authority derives from hiding one's subjectivity, and a new one in which authority derives from being transparent about it.

Morals in-and-of-themselves are not logical. Morals embody emotions and opinions that don't necessarily have a logical ground. Fear of homosexuality and the opinion that vaccines cause autism are beliefs that aren't based on facts. Yet, people believe in these things. Journalism has morphed from being on truth to truthiness, "lies which feel right in the gut".[6] People believe in lies because it makes them feel good, in other words lies are opium of the people,Wikipedia's W.svg because reality is too hard to swallow.

Orwellianism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Orwellian

Multiple Orwellian tactics are used to keep a post-truth platform going, showing how Orwellianism functions as a campaign.

  • Doublethink: Often, several parts of a post-truth platform will contradict each other, which both the politician and their supporters will just blatantly pretend doesn't exist.
  • Doublespeak: To appeal to emotion, the politician often abuses their words to gain support. For example, when saying Islamic terrorism, focus heavily on the word "Islamic" to stir Islamophobia. Say "enhanced interrogation interviews" instead of torture. Say we're already equal, or even better, feminism and anti-racism are used by the matriarchal, anti-white regime, and must be fixed. Claim anti-racists are anti-white and hate traditional culture. One example is how the majorly post-truth GOP has done whatever it can to create a tangent between "liberal" and "totalitarianism". The right in the US has done whatever it can to make liberalism seem synonymous with authoritarian and illiberal forms of socialism, and has to a certain extent succeeded.
  • Crimestop: Think doublespeak is too hard? Just ignore the issue entirely! Remember to do whatever you can to turn support away from the issue before they begin thinking about it, and make sure they don't like figures that do. This is what took the Civil Rights movement so long. Their opponents dodged any critical thinking, and since it was "bad" according to them, their support thought it was "bad" too.

Other key aspects[edit]

  • Populism: Populism is a great tactic when used in moderation, but post-truth takes it way too far, with many relying solely on opposition to elites, often imagined.
  • Fake news: Post-truth politicians and movements, such as the Reagan-era GOP, often claim the MSM is a fake news conspiracy and that actual fake news is real news. This has dramatically increased under Trump, who claims there's a media conspiracy both inside and outside of the party working against him.
  • Scapegoat: Look at it, every post-truth campaign has one. That one person or group they blame all their problems on. Sometimes, they have several. The GOP blames the left, immigration, and the anti-war movement. Teabaggers and Trumpians specifically also blame mainstream Republicans. The Leave campaign blamed refugees. Nazi Germany had several. Revolutionary socialists blame capitalist oligarchy. The alt-right blames everyone who isn't an alt-right heterosexual WASP natural-born American. They all have at least one.
  • Tu quoque: Many go beyond any sort of logical campaign and just criticize their opponents, pretty much running on not as bad as and non sequiturs. This is what eventually leads to the creation of problems to fix, when/if they successfully suppress opposition. For example, the Trump campaign almost solely focused on attacking people, with very little actual structure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]