Post-Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed. Higgins, K. 540(7631):9.
Post-Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
If politicians can lie without condemnation, what are scientists to do? Kathleen Higgins offers some explanation. [Excerpt] The Oxford Dictionaries named 'post-truth' as their 2016 Word of the Year. It must sound alien to scientists. Science's quest for knowledge about reality presupposes the importance of truth, both as an end in itself and as a means of resolving problems. How could truth become passé? [] [...] [] Post-truth refers to blatant lies being routine across society, and it means that politicians can lie without condemnation. This is different from the cliché that all politicians lie and make promises they have no intention of keeping – this still expects honesty to be the default position. In a post-truth world, this expectation no longer holds. [] [...] Public tolerance of inaccurate and undefended allegations, non sequiturs in response to hard questions and outright denials of facts is shockingly high. Repetition of talking points passes for political discussion, and serious interest in issues and options is treated as the idiosyncrasy of wonks. The lack of public indignation when political figures claim disbelief in response to scientific consensus on climate change is part of this larger pattern. [...] [] [...] One might be tempted to blame philosophy for post-truth. Some of us write about epistemic relativism, the view that truth can vary depending on the context. Yet relativism is itself relative. An extreme relativist might hold that the truth varies from person to person, a position that does not leave much room for debate. But more rational positions can also involve at least a modicum of relativism. [...] [] Much of the public hears what it wants to hear, because many people get their news exclusively from sources whose bias they agree with. But contemptuous leaders and voters who are content with hand-waving and entertaining bluster undermine the democratic idea of rule by the people. The irony is that politicians who benefit from post-truth tendencies rely on truth, too, but not because they adhere to it. They depend on most people's good-natured tendency to trust that others are telling the truth, at least the vast majority of the time. [] Scientists and philosophers should be shocked by the idea of post-truth, and they should speak up when scientific findings are ignored by those in power or treated as mere matters of faith. Scientists must keep reminding society of the importance of the social mission of science – to provide the best information possible as the basis for public policy. And they should publicly affirm the intellectual virtues that they so effectively model: critical thinking, sustained inquiry and revision of beliefs on the basis of evidence. [...]
@article{higginsPosttruthGuidePerplexed2016,
  title = {Post-Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed},
  author = {Higgins, Kathleen},
  date = {2016-11},
  journaltitle = {Nature},
  volume = {540},
  pages = {9},
  issn = {0028-0836},
  doi = {10.1038/540009a},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/14217792},
  abstract = {If politicians can lie without condemnation, what are scientists to do? Kathleen Higgins offers some explanation.

[Excerpt] The Oxford Dictionaries named 'post-truth' as their 2016 Word of the Year. It must sound alien to scientists. Science's quest for knowledge about reality presupposes the importance of truth, both as an end in itself and as a means of resolving problems. How could truth become passé?

[] [...]

[] Post-truth refers to blatant lies being routine across society, and it means that politicians can lie without condemnation. This is different from the cliché that all politicians lie and make promises they have no intention of keeping -- this still expects honesty to be the default position. In a post-truth world, this expectation no longer holds.

[] [...] Public tolerance of inaccurate and undefended allegations, non sequiturs in response to hard questions and outright denials of facts is shockingly high. Repetition of talking points passes for political discussion, and serious interest in issues and options is treated as the idiosyncrasy of wonks. The lack of public indignation when political figures claim disbelief in response to scientific consensus on climate change is part of this larger pattern. [...]

[] [...] One might be tempted to blame philosophy for post-truth. Some of us write about epistemic relativism, the view that truth can vary depending on the context. Yet relativism is itself relative. An extreme relativist might hold that the truth varies from person to person, a position that does not leave much room for debate. But more rational positions can also involve at least a modicum of relativism. [...]

[] Much of the public hears what it wants to hear, because many people get their news exclusively from sources whose bias they agree with. But contemptuous leaders and voters who are content with hand-waving and entertaining bluster undermine the democratic idea of rule by the people. The irony is that politicians who benefit from post-truth tendencies rely on truth, too, but not because they adhere to it. They depend on most people's good-natured tendency to trust that others are telling the truth, at least the vast majority of the time.

[] Scientists and philosophers should be shocked by the idea of post-truth, and they should speak up when scientific findings are ignored by those in power or treated as mere matters of faith. Scientists must keep reminding society of the importance of the social mission of science -- to provide the best information possible as the basis for public policy. And they should publicly affirm the intellectual virtues that they so effectively model: critical thinking, sustained inquiry and revision of beliefs on the basis of evidence. [...]},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14217792,~to-add-doi-URL,ethics,information,philosophy,post-normal-science,post-truth,science-ethics,science-policy-interface,science-society-interface,scientific-communication,social-system,sustainability},
  number = {7631}
}
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