Can comedy save us in the “post-truth” era?

In her fascinating, comprehensive new book “The Girl in the Show: Three Generations of Comedy, Culture, & Feminism,” author Anna Fields reveals the audacious women who shaped modern comedy — and the obstacles they overcame just to get a place on the stage to make audiences laugh. Culled from both exhaustive research and interviews with luminaries like Abbi Jacobson and  Molly Shannon, it’s a tribute to the power of women standing up.

Fields spoke recently with Salon.com about comedy and the “girls” in the rooms where it happened.

On the presumed masculinity of humor:

We do think of men when we think of comedy, and we do think of maleness when we think of a comedian. So many of the women I interviewed talked to me about how they have to “trick the audience into thinking they’re men” in order for the audience to feel comfortable laughing at them but also loving them.

It’s so fascinating — what is a comedian supposed to look like?

On how gender fluidity is changing comedy:

What is to be a female comedian? What is it to be a male comedian? What if you are a comedian of either, both, or no gender? What does that mean in terms of how you present yourself to the audience, what you are allowed to joke about, and whether your audience will feel comfortable joking with you about that thing?

On the political power of laughter

I’ve always asked myself if, given that we live in an era in which so many of our leaders are abdicating their role as truth tellers, if comedians, by telling us the truth, become our new national leaders?

**Watch the video for the full interview. Click here to be redirected to salon.com

**Feature image credit: Salon.com

Can Comedy Save Us? What Do You Think?

Interview: Brooklyn Designer David Yun On A Post-Post Truth World And Streetwear Brand

Misinformation campaigns by Russia toward western countries; journalists jailed in Turkey; the spread of hoax news in 2016; the Trump administration’s ongoing game to blame the press for Trump’s woes. These kinds of events are causing the creative class in places such as Brooklyn, Berlin and Portland to appreciate the free and independent press.

Brooklyn designers David Yun, Zak Klauck and their team at Wax Studios came up with “an evolving streetwear/advocacy initiative” called Post-Post Truth. “We are deeply concerned about the future of journalism in the US and worldwide,” they write. “How do you fight disinformation in an age when all information is suspect — if facts are tailored to your own personal perspective and reason is seen as suspect?”

To help support a robust, independent media landscape with high ethical standards, the PPT project has pledged to donate 50 percent of profits from their product sales to independent, nonprofit news organizations that support non-partisan investigative journalism. They point to ProPublicaPew Research CenterThe Center for Public IntegrityReveal News and The Associated Press as some of the good guys they want to support. “Post-Post-Truth looks toward a new era when public discourse and debate is framed by observed, corroborated, and reported facts; when the loudest person in the room is one who upholds journalistic standards, crafts arguments with process-based research and employs objective reason,” they write.

Read more on forbes.com

Featured Image Credit: Scott Haven / http://postposttruth.us

 

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

Featured Image Credit

Does survival depend on having the facts?

How we got here: The origins of post-truth anti-environmentalism

“I grew up in the Long Island suburbs of New York and have vivid memories of running behind the “fog trucks”. These trucks went through the neighbourhoods spraying DDT for mosquito control until it was banned in 1972.

I didn’t know it until much later, but that experience, and exposure, was extended due to the pesticide industry’s lies and tactics – what is now labelled “post-truth”.

Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962. It was a beautifully written, if distressing, bit of what we today call “research translation”. The “silent spring” was the impact of DDT as songbird species were killed off.

Carson tried to expose the chemical industry’s disinformation. For doing so, she was roundly and untruthfully attacked as a communist and an opponent of progress. Silent Spring was one of the most popular and vetted overviews of environmental science of all time. Yet lies and bullshit prevented a decent policy response for a decade.

And the lies won’t go away. In 2007, one of the think-tanks responsible for climate science misinformation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, began reiterating one of the main refuted claims about Carson. She was said to be responsible for millions of deaths due to the ban on DDT to control mosquitoes that spread malaria.

The reality is that while DDT was banned for agriculture in the US – and spraying on kids in suburban neighbourhoods – it was never banned for anti-malarial use. Even now. But the political right and the dirtiest chemical industry players in all of industrial capitalism have long painted environmentalists as killers – of people, progress and jobs.

Read more on Business Insider

Featured Image taken as a screen grab from Silent Spring

Will the Lies Continue?

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?

OPINION: Post-Truth and Disability Rights

“I’m not comfortable with the term “post-truth” and I don’t use it. I see it as a Stalinist phrase, the answer to the old tyrant’s rhetorical question: “If Stalin was such a bad guy, why do all these people have to resort to attributing to him almost entirely quotes he didn’t make, or manipulate his actual quotes just enough to make them seem evil?”

Post-truth is “good Stalin” and I believe no one should employ the term. But it is here like candy and coconuts which is to say it’s as much a fact as Koba himself. I’ve always liked this observation by Christopher Hitchens: “Stalinism was, among other things, a triumph of the torturing of language. And, unlike Nazism or fascism or nuclear warfare, it secured at least the respect, and sometimes the admiration, of liberal intellectuals.”

One may insert post-truth right there.

Nevertheless, and without irony, or at least profligate irony, I’ve been thinking about disability and post-truth, largely because tough minded disabled protestors have been bleeding, have been dragged from their wheelchairs, earning the respect of millions while defending the principle of health care as a human right. Is it possible that disability is to post-truth as iodine is to goiter.” – Stephen Kuusisto, Contributor

Read More at HuffPost

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What do you think of this opinion?

Universities must rethink how they communicate in a post-truth world

Leave the bustle of Massachusetts Avenue and step into Harvard Yard, the historic heart of Harvard University, and you may notice an inscription above the gate. “Enter to grow in wisdom,” it reads. Stroll around the grounds and you cannot miss the famous Harvard coat of arms emblazoned with a single word: “Veritas”.

For centuries, our great research universities, epitomized by Harvard, have been the world’s bastions of wisdom and truth.

So it was appropriate that Times Higher Education held its inaugural World Reputation Forum at Harvard Square, Cambridge, earlier this month, bringing together senior leaders from Harvard and its neighbour the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as colleagues from the University of Oxford and another institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth, The Wall Street Journal. The meeting was convened to discuss “the role of truth-seekers in a post-truth world”

Original article by Phil Baty featured on Timeshighereducation.com. Read more.

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