Post-Truth: A New Future? Not Yet.

By:  Robert Bryson

The concept of “Post-Truth” was perfectly encapsulated in the first episode of the Colbert Report during the inaugural segment of “The Word,” wherein Stephen Colbert famously declared:

“Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”[1]

Unfortunately, Colbert’s insightful breakdown of the trajectory of American politics and news probably proved more prescient than he likely intended. Post-Truth became the buzzword for all things Trump Administration immediately following the 2016 Election: from his bizarre assertion that his inauguration crowd was the largest in history, to his inflammatory allegation of widespread voter fraud, and to his divisive assertion that there were “very fine people on both sides” in reference to Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. This President more than any of his predecessors embodies “post-truth” shoved (hopefully) to its reductio ad absurdum.

The past four years is not a reason to submit to this Post-Truth world, rather, it is a clarion call for every American to reinvest in education, reliable news, and to embrace a skeptical (not contrarian) view.

The future is unknowable, it is composed of an infinite number of choices made by every living being, every second of every day. We may wake up one day and find ourselves in a world defined by its opposition to science, investigative media, and academic research. Or we may wake up in a world which consigned this period of American history to the dustbin, along with the Gilded Age and Antebellum South.

Are we in a Post-Truth world? Not yet.

 

[1] The Atlantic: “How America Lost Its Mind,” Kurt Andersen, 28 Dec 2017

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