Surviving in a Post-Truth World

LOS ANGELES – Despite the falsehoods that some politicians peddle, facts still matter, and getting those facts right is essential for survival. I know, because I regularly see the deadly consequences of getting facts wrong.

I am a behavioral ecologist, and I study how animals assess and manage predation risk. But, rather than study the flashy predators – with their sharp teeth, stealthy approaches, and impressive sprinting abilities – I focus on their food.

Some wallabies make bad use of facts. Too often, these four-legged snacks ignore information right in front of them – like rustling in the underbrush or the scent of a passing carnivore. And they pay for this ignorance dearly, with the sudden slash of talons, or the constricting squeeze of a powerful jaw.

But my research has shown that many would-be meals – marmots, birds, lizards, fish, and sessile marine invertebrates among them – are better at assessing risk. In 1979, the ecologists Richard Dawkins and John Krebs proposed the “life-dinner principle,” which holds that prey, with more to lose than predators, are more creative survivalists. The risk of being eaten – and thus removed from the gene pool – provides a strong incentive to up one’s game. For the predator, the only consequence of failure is going hungry until the next meal.

Continue reading on Project-Syndicate.org

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Does survival depend on having the facts?

PUSHING THE EDGE: What’s the truth about the ‘post truth’ era

Consider this fictional encounter between a mother and her teenage son.

Mom: “Hey Billy. I just received a call from your English teacher. She says you have not been doing your homework in preparation for class.”

Billy: “Don’t listen to her. That’s ‘fake news’. Who are you going to believe that loser teacher or your loving son?”

Who should Mom believe?

Is “fake news” really fake?

Recently we have added new words to our lexicon such as “fake news” and “alternative facts”. The proliferation of social media such as Twitter and Facebook allows erroneous claims to spread really fast. These erroneous claims can easily be interpreted as “truth” when the information confirms one’s preexisting beliefs. This phenomenon is called “confirmation bias”. Given that bias, fake news instigators thrive on stoking their followers’ confirmatory bias.

Confirmation Bias

In today’s highly politically charged environment, there are many “camps of opinion” that hold their beliefs to be right and others, with different beliefs, to be wrong. The “camps” are preoccupied with building arguments using selective “facts” to support their assertion of “truth” and that “prove” the other wrong. When people with opposing views interpret information in a biased way, their views can move even further apart. Many of us are so attached to our beliefs that those beliefs can survive logical challenges.

Read more here: http://norwell.wickedlocal.com/news/20170720/pushing-edge-whats-truth-about-post-truth-era

Featured photo credit: http://ow.ly/j0I430dOEtd

Do you agree: Can beliefs be so strong that they can survive logical challenges?

Culture Lab Detroit announces 2017 theme: ‘post-truth’

“If it wasn’t apparent already, we have officially entered a post-truth era. From the “alternative facts” brazenly spun from the White House daily to the public’s eroding trust in the media, the concept of a fractured reality had a moment in 2016 — so much so that the Oxford English Dictionary even chose “post-truth” (an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”) as its word of the year, noting a 2,000 percent uptick in its usage in 2015.

What does the concept of post-truth mean closer to home? With the increasing traction of the narrative of “Two Detroits” — a booming downtown touted in the media as a Motor City comeback, while the rest of the city experiences a very different reality — it’s a question worth asking, which Culture Lab Detroit will explore later this year with the announcement of the “post-truth” theme for its 2017 discussion series, to be held Oct. 5 and 6.”

Read more on this story at MetroTimes.com

Would you go to this discussion series?

The Post-Truth World – Why Have We Had Enough Of Experts?

We are living in a post-truth world, where alternative facts and fake news compete on an equal footing with peer-reviewed research and formerly-authoritative sources such as the United Kingdom’s global news and current affairs service, the BBC.

Read more:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lbsbusinessstrategyreview/2017/05/22/the-post-truth-world-why-have-we-had-enough-of-experts/#15b8140754e6

How to fight ‘fake news’ in a post-truth environment

Though co-opted by US President Donald Trump, the ‘fake news’ phenomenon is global and weakening trust in media.

Its definition is unclear and can change depending on whom you ask. It is used in increasingly politicised ways across much of the world.

And, although its leap to prominence is largely due to 140-character Twitter posts coming out of the White House, it now has widespread implications for journalism, politics, and how people everywhere share information online.

But what exactly is “fake news” and what effect is it having globally?

Read more:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/fight-fake-news-post-truth-environment-170327162945897.html

Paul Krugman laments our brave new post-truth world

All presidents lie some of the some of the time. Many presidents spin most of the time. But never has a president lied, to the public and the press, all of the time. For Paul Krugman, this bottomless mendacity is what separates the Trump administration from all that preceded it and helps explain why Trump poses such a unique threat to the future of American democracy.

In a Friday column that ricochets from anger to despair and back again, the New York Times economist mourns the first victim of the Trump era: the truth.

“On matters of policy, politicians used to limit their misrepresentations of facts and impacts to relatively hard-to-verify assertions. When George W. Bush insisted that his tax cuts mainly went to the middle class, this wasn’t true, but it took some number-crunching to show that,” he writes. “What we’re getting from Mr. Trump is simply on a different plane from anything we’ve seen before.”

Read more:

http://www.salon.com/2017/03/03/paul-krugman-laments-our-brave-new-post-truth-world_partner/

Research & evidence in the ’post-truth’ era

Time to pull up the ivory drawbridge?
In what some are calling a ‘post-truth’ era is it time for the experts – who in some quarters have been dismissed as irrelevant, disconnected, an unnecessary luxury – to retreat into their academic ivory towers and pull up their ivory drawbridges? Or is it time to do things differently? I think we need to face these debates and the increased scrutiny that we find ourselves under head on, and more effectively demonstrate the contribution that research, evidence and knowledge can make to create a fairer, safer and more sustainable world. But this in turn means working in partnership across borders, across disciplines, across sectors and across different groups of people, appreciating and working with the politics that always pervades knowledge.

read more:

http://www.ids.ac.uk/opinion/research-and-evidence-in-the-post-truth-era … @mleach_ids on navigating knowledge, power & policy & rejecting untruths