Video: What is ‘Post-Truth’? What Can We Do About It?


RSS panel on post-truth
Some panelists of the RSS panel, from left: Will Moy, Helen Margetts, Hetan Shah and Tracey Brown

The Oxford Dictionary named ‘post-truth’ as its word of the year in 2016, but what is ‘post-truth,’ what can we do about it, and what significance do terms like this and the ever popular emerging ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ mean for the changing expectations and engagement of our society?

At a panel debate held by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) entitled ‘Post-truth: what is it and what can we do about it,’ panelists data journalist James Ball (BuzzFeed, and author of forthcoming book on ‘post-truth’), Tracey Brown (director of Sense about Science), Will Moy (director of Full Fact), Helen Margetts (director of the Oxford Internet Institute), and Hetan Shah, who heads the RSS and chaired the event, debated this new phenomenon.

The good use of evidence and statistics in public debate is hugely important and the EU referendum and the American election are both examples of where the political misuse of statistics and facts has become commonplace. The panel discussed what is ‘post-truth’, and whether or not there is something genuinely new about our current era, or if this is a new word about the same old age problem? Moving forwards, the panellists sought to seek an action plan around what can be done to ensure that statistics, facts and evidence always form part of a balanced debate in the media and politics.

‘Post-truth: what is it and what can we do about it?’ was held by the RSS, in association with Sense about Science, Full Fact and the Oxford Internet Institute, on February 7, 2017.  Learn more about the event here.

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