Australia is in the grips of ‘post truth’ phenomena

Gillian Triggs has said Australia is in the grips of the phenomena of “post truth” which compounds the problem of the overreach of executive power.
Giving the Michael Kirby Oration on Wednesday night at Victoria University, Professor Triggs said the idea of alternative facts which had credibility had created an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world where words mean what we choose them to.

“This is what is increasingly concerning me particularly in the context of the current debate on marriage equality,” she said.

“The obfuscation of the truth, the failure to deal with the issues, to throw in great debating techniques and straw men and red herrings … are deeply troubling in an issue that should be lead by clear evidence-driven leadership through our politicians and senior members of the community.”

Professor Triggs said it was a “tragedy” that most Australians did not know enough about our system of government.

“We don’t have education in what might be described as ‘civics’,” she said.

“The basics of our democracy I think need to be taught at our schools, more clearly than they are, and more emphasis at our universities.”

She said there needed to be a focus on separation of powers, checks and balances and why Australia can’t have cabinet executive government assume a larger role to the detriment of parliament and the judiciary.

“I also believe it is time for us to revisit the work that’s already been done on the introduction of some legislative form of a bill of rights,” Professor Triggs said.

“I know very well there is very little political appetite for a bill of rights but it doesn’t mean that we should stop thinking about it.”

She said by creating the language of a bill of human rights across the country, people would be more aware when there was creeping legislation that in one way or another curtail those rights.

“I might note the paradox that the very people who have been demanding an end to identity politics, to political correctness, all want reform in anti-discrimination laws on race or sex, are the very same people who are now demanding new legislative protection on freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” she said.

Full story at: The Australian

Featured Image Credit: The Australian

Fighting the Normalization of Post-Truth Politics

Donald Trump’s rally speech in Phoenix on August 22 was full of falsehoods. The lack of outrage over his deceptive statements points to the normalization of post-truth politics, when appeals to personal beliefs and emotions wins out over objective facts. To avoid this normalization, we need to borrow the successful tactics of the environmental movement in dealing with the pollution of our environment.

 

During this speech, according to highly credible fact-checking organizations such as Factcheck.org and Politifact, Trump misled the audience as to his reaction to the Charlottesville violence, such as by neglecting to mention that he blamed “both sides.” He made false claims about the media, for instance that CNN’s ratings went down when they are rising, or that the media failed to report on Trump’s condemnation of racism, when they did. In the economic arena, he stated that wages “haven’t gone up for a long time,” when actually they’ve risen for at least the last three years. Another example of economic deception: Trump wrongly claimed that the US has “become an energy exporter for the first time ever just recently.”

 

Where is the outrage over these deceptions? This is our President, systematically sowing misinformation. Most of his falsehoods – such as the statement about the wages or CNN ratings – had been debunked earlier. Yet he kept repeating them, leaving no other interpretation than a deliberate intent to deceive, the dictionary definition of lying.

This lying is part of a broader pattern: Trump’s Politifact file shows an astounding 49 percent of his statements, are false. By comparison, his opponent in the US presidential election Hillary Clinton’s file shows that only 12 percent of her statements were false, 14 percent for the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Despite Trump’s extremely high rate of deception, many still believe him. As an example, 44 percent of those polled believed his falsehoods about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign.

 

Thus, many will believe his Phoenix rally claims, despite debunking by fact-checkers. Unfortunately, 29 percent of the public, and only 12 percent of Trump supporters, trustfact-checkers. This mistrust enables Trump to pollute our politics with deception, undermining the trust so crucial to the political health of any democracy…

 

Read more on HuffPost

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

 Is Fake News the New Norm?

Banner row has Hong Kong entering the post-truth era

Hong Kong may be entering a post-truth era, too. Scanning the websites and online forums of the opposition and those of pro-establishment circles over the past two weeks, you can hardly tell facts from rumours and conspiracy theories. The impression they give is that the only truths are those that accord with your own political stance.

The rows over offensive banners put up at several university campuses have been the catalyst, though things have been going downhill in this regard for a long time. One common conspiracy theory among radicals and activists is that the big poster congratulating Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin on the suicide of her 25-year-old son was not put up by Education University students at all. Rather, outside forces used the poster as a “false-flag” operation to discredit the fight by student leaders for freedom of speech and the right to raise issues about Hong Kong independence on university campuses.

Meanwhile, not a few members of the pro-government camp have speculated that the same university students or others sympathetic to them – rather than nationalistic mainland students – put up campus banners, written in simplified characters, to celebrate the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia being under house arrest. This was to distract people from the row over the Christine Choi banner, which has put the student activists and their university union representatives in a terrible light.

Read more on South China Morning Post

Featured Image Credit: South China Morning Post

Is Hong Kong Entering the Post-Truth Era?

How Do We Navigate A ‘Post-Truth’ World? Follow The Millennials

“In 2016, Oxford declared its Word of the Year to be “post-truth” after it saw a 2000% increase in usage. How do executives or at least older people make their way in a post-truth world? Leaning on your Millennials is one helpful approach.

Post-truth is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion that appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Some have attributed its recent popularity to the sort of anti-establishment and emotion-driven politics that gave rise to the election of President Trump and the Brexit decision. However, we believe that the post-truth world we find ourselves in is the result of greater phenomena. On one hand, growing income inequality has led to widespread frustration. Feeling shortchanged by the system, many people are susceptible to reactionary thinking. On the other, the constant barrage of information and opinions enabled by the internet and a 24-hour news cycle is not only disorienting, but also makes it difficult to discern between what is ‘news’ and what is ‘opinion.’

This confusion has led to a decline in trust. A 2016 Gallup poll has found that the American trust in mass media has fallen to an all-time low. Public distrust makes sense when we consider a Postmodern worldview. Why should people accept what they are told by mainstream sources when they have direct access to the ‘real’ world through the user-generated content that pervades the media? We have the ability at our fingertips to find evidence or opinions supporting any and all narratives. Why would we want to accept universal ‘truths’ or ‘facts’, especially those that contradict our opinions? But as irritating as a post-truth world may seem, we sense that Millennials may be the best guides to navigating it.”

Read more of this article on Forbes.com

Featured image credit: Shutterstock 

Are Millennials the Best Guides in the Post-Truth World?

‘Post-truth’ media really is shifting the news agenda – and more subtly than it seems

“As stories of Russian “information warfare” in various Western countries continue to mount, governments, intelligence agencies and journalists are fretting over the influence of global media outlets funded by autocratic governments. But while these organisations are clearly meant to serve their sponsor governments’ agendas in various ways, is the West right to be so worried about them?

Information campaigning in various forms is as old as politics itself, and nor is it the sole province of political bogeymen. Research shows that democracies are better than autocracies at influencing foreign public opinion, and businesses, politicians and states all use the mass media strategically for their information campaigns.

Whether this is public relations, public diplomacy, or propaganda is a matter of perspective. But the names we give a particular information campaign not only reflect our inferences about its aims; they can in fact amplify its power and advance its goals.

A case in point is the Kremlin-funded international broadcaster RT, formerly Russia Today. The network has been sanctioned by media watchdogs for its “misleading” coverage, even as it gathered five Emmy nominations for its investigative reporting. It was even cited by Hillary Clinton in 2011 as an example of an “information war” she said the West was losing – unwittingly describing things to come in her own career.

The network’s PR strategy skilfully uses these criticisms to cater to the biases of an anti-establishment generation. Its motto encourages viewers to “Question More”, and its various advertising campaigns have successfully exhibited Western contempt and suspicion as a badge of honour.”

Read more at: theconversation.com 

Featured photo: Gil C via Shutterstock

Do you think we are engaged in an “information war” as Hillary Clinton describes?

 

“Basket of Deplorables” Riffs on Trump’s America

“A new collection of short stories by Tom Rachman considers privacy and cultural bubbles in a post-truth era.

The first sentence of Basket of Deplorables announces, “You can’t see me right now. Then again, I can’t see you either.” You can take the narrator, Georgina, literally: A recent head injury has left her blind, and adrift at a buzzing election-night party at a Tribeca loft where she feels increasingly alienated from the intellectuals, musicians, and n+1 editors in her social circle. But her statement applies to all five of Tom Rachman’s new stories, released on Audible in the U.S. and in book form in Britain and Australia. Set consciously in the current moment and a few years from now, the darkly satirical tales consider a broader kind of cultural myopia—one that afflicts conservatives and liberals alike.

There’s something inevitable, if not rote, in the first wave of cultural works responding to the Trump presidency. Most seem sprung from outrage or sheer incomprehension: “The nightmare is in high gear,” is how the playwright Tony Kushner described his in-progress play about Donald Trump to The Daily Beast. But even in this early phase, it’s apparent that the 45th president is as difficult a subject as he is irresistible. Neither satire nor fiction can adequately capture him. So writers might be wise to consider him obliquely, as Rachman does: as a presence in the room, not a focal point. Basket of Deplorables is less interested in Trump than in the people and factors that enabled his presidency, and sometimes not even in those. Its point is that Americans’ increasing polarization and suspicion of each other is leading to a place that could make even 2017 seem like halcyon days for humanity by comparison.

The world of the five stories is an intricate, interconnected one, with many of the various connections and hints only emerging on a second read. The first tale, from which the collection gets its name, is set on November 8, 2016, at a prototypically dazzling Manhattan soiree, where fashion designers mingle with cultural theory professors and Salvadoran waiters serve sumac-spiced appetizers raided from “the pages of Ottolenghi.” Georgina, the narrator, is a former photographer known for her caustic images of rock stars and artists; her good-natured partner, Roger, is a publisher who prides himself on his parties, where Henry Kissinger and Britney Spears might both be proffered as cultural curiosities for the left-leaning “hothouse intellectuals” in attendance.”

Read more at The Atlantic

Featured photo credit: The Atlantic

Would You Read This Collection of Short Stories?

 

‘Post-truth is an intellectual label for bulls**t’ – Nish Kumar on The Mash Report

We are living in a ‘post-truth’ era of fake news, we keep being told. British and American politics are becoming more and more like a South Park episode in real life. Enter stand-up comedian Nish Kumar and master satirists The Daily Mash. Written in the week of broadcast, The Mash Report is a new TV show from the minds behind the website whose Onion-style take on the British news cycle has won it 600,000 fans on Facebook and millions of daily readers. Joined by comedic talents Ellie Taylor, Steve N Allen and Rachel Parris, presenter Kumar will report on everything that happened – or didn’t happen – that week.

Read more: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/television/nish-kumar-the-mash-report-post-truth-satire/

Photo credit: Nish Kumar fronts the new topical show The Mash Report (Photo: BBC)

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