Are We Living In A Post-Truth World?

The day of the expert is over as facts are increasingly replaced by alternative facts and truth replaced by lies. But why are people letting this happen?

Ignoring the truth

Experts are increasingly viewed with scepticism as their tendency to sometimes overlook common sense in their pronunciations has taken its toll.

The tradition of respect afforded to specialists has broken down with the advent of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Debate, criticism and reason have always been crucial to the establishment of the truth and vital to the functioning of an informed society.

But such habits are giving way to a world where the loudest voice wins and by dint of repetition replaces facts with what are now called alternative facts.

Alternative facts or what used to be called lies are gaining currency in the daily news cycle and traction in public debate as social media creates a new ecosystem of information and misinformation.

Communication and collaboration between expert and non-expert should always be seen as positive as it helps stretch and test ideas before decisions are made.

In many cases, the amateur adds significant value to the thinking of the practitioner as they introduce different and more grounded and pragmatic approaches.

But such interaction is dwindling as the level of trust between the layperson and the specialist diminishes.

News is now received from multiple channels and delivered with the same authority and gravitas, regardless of the quality of content or source of material.

The Google effect

Google armed crusaders challenge experts in every discipline, which can be useful but not when used to dismiss their input as irritating or irrelevant.

When constructive challenge is replaced by destructive disparagement it is time to reflect on what is happening and why.

In this context, we have entered a new world where the Internet makes us all experts to the point where evidenced-based facts are regularly relegated to second place.

The shift of focus from expert to non-expert opinion will not negate the need for expertise but it is substituting informed opinions with ill-informed views.

Alternative facts or lies are often inspired by beliefs and based on emotions coupled with a scattering of the truth to support a particular point of view.

Such an approach causes damage as it undermines the process of reflective consideration that leads to good decision-making.

Without protected space for expert knowledge, as an unbiased resource from which everyone benefits, society will be a poorer and more dangerous place.

And public discourse will suffer as fact and non-fact based reports are treated equally in the public and, more worryingly, private realm.

So, facts are replaced by alternative facts and truth is replaced by lies as the world embraces an approach unimaginable a short few years ago.