Please see below selected recent truth-related change.
- Most modern societies place a high value on truth and honesty - but people can’t seem to resist falsehoods, from little white lies to vast conspiracy theories. In a podcast, Bill Gates and Rashida Jones attempted to answer a question that felt for many like it had taken on extra relevance during the pandemic year of 2020: why do people believe lies?
- Politicians are increasingly hiring private companies to spread disinformation online, according to researchers who found campaigns run by third-party contractors targeting 48 different countries, The Oxford Internet Institute said the “disinformation-for-hire” market is booming, with advertising, marketing and public relations companies offering to manipulate online opinion for political parties and governments. The OII said private contractors help to identify which groups to target with messages, and then “prompt the trending of certain political messages” either through fake accounts or with armies of bots, or automated accounts, noted the Financial Times.
- The World Economic Forum warned that the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to many new conspiracy theories - and UNESCO wants to educate people to identify and debunk them. Certain groups are more prone to being targeted, including particular religions and people with different sexual orientation. Counter-actions include calling out false information, contacting the author, and taking care not to spread it further.
- For New World, Same Humans, the way to beat QAnon and similar conspiracy theories, and the only future for progressive politics, is via difficult truths: about work, automation, nation states, and the future of our planet. We need a new story that confronts these realities, explains their meaning, and points towards a brighter tomorrow. The challenge is as simple as it is difficult. We need to find new ways to tell the truth.
- Why do we lie? In one key respect, the psychoanalytic response to this question is broadly in line with other psychologies: we lie to evade the many and various unpleasant consequences of telling the truth. Lying to others can preserve us from the embarrassment of having values, tastes or desires that offend societal norms; lying to ourselves helps protect our favourable self-image. Beyond these defensive functions, lying can confer advantages over public and personal rivals and adversaries, in sex or business, art or politics. Lying also shields us from our vulnerability to our own unconscious desires, but also corrodes a shared reality. The liar wields the power to create their own reality free of uncertainty, according to Josh Cohen, a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University.
- In his book, When Maps Become the World, University of California, Santa Cruz philosopher and humanist Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther shows how the scientific theories, models and concepts we use to intervene in the world function as maps. We increasingly understand the world around us in terms of models, to the extent that we often take the models for reality. Winther explains how our representations in science become dominant social narratives - they become reality, and they can remake the world.
- Prospect Magazine warned that misinformation is nothing new. Foreigners and minorities have been slandered through history—often in the context of disease, and sometimes with murderous consequences. But “the difference now,” Sylvie Briand, director of Infectious Hazards Management at WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told The Lancet, is that “with social media… this phenomenon is amplified, it goes faster and further.” The “huge change in the infrastructure of information,” says Amil Khan, a former government specialist who has studied misinformation in conflict zones, affects “not just the mechanics but the fundamental principles.” While, “for most of the modern era, information was filtered,” he says, today the filters are seriously eroded.
- When CB Insights published its report on disinformation, they titled it Memes That Kill: The Future Of Information Warfare. In it, they covered everything from deepfakes to bot armies. However the company warns that as dystopian as it might sound, that “future” is now. Nearly half of the people talking about Covid-19 on Twitter may have been bots, according to Carnegie Mellon research. Conspiracy theories regarding cures wererife in Facebook groups. These forms of online discourse fuelled real-life action, often with destructive consequences, ranging from vandalism of 5G towers to hate crimes against Asians to deaths from self-medication.
- Falsehoods can spread and mutate as quickly as a virus, creating a pandemic of misinformation that ranges from fake satellite images showing mass cremations of COVID-19 victims to claims that cocaine can kill the virus
- According to a report by researchers at Oxford University, governments are spreading disinformation to discredit political opponents, bury opposing views and interfere in foreign affairs. The researchers compiled information from news organisations, civil society groups and governments to create one of the most comprehensive inventories of disinformation practices by governments around the world. They found that the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns more than doubled to 70+, with evidence of at least one political party or government entity in each of those countries engaging in social media manipulation.
- Quartz believes Google-owned YouTube has a radicalisation problem. So does Reddit. Twitter is full of fake news. Facebook is flooded with disinformation. The low-paid moderators hired to stem the tide of false and vile content are burning out. And even if you want to ditch the tech giants altogether, good luck with that—their ad reach can follow you all over the internet. The web was created as an open exchange of information. Today, that dream often seems dead.
- Research released by Institute for the Future revealed how social and issue-focused groups are particularly susceptible to disinformation campaigns and can be targeted with computational propaganda, e.g. as they were during the US 2018 mid-term elections.
- Chatham House asked whether we ready for deepfakes. These are fake videos in which a politician or a celebrity can be made to say whatever the hacker wants to put in their mouth. They are like fake news, but far more convincing. As we discuss in the next edition, deepfakes could cause civil strife or even war, but almost certainly they will reinforce distrust of online content, allowing everyone to deny the evidence of their eyes and pick their own truth.
- The School of Life believes it would be a great deal more honest and a lot more liberating to accept that we do of course spend a lot of our lives lying in one way or another - and to grow generously sympathetic to, and curious about, the reasons why we do so. We have allowed ourselves to focus on the delinquent or semi-criminal aspects of lying, as though deceitfulness was always something that might happen in relation to a school teacher, an angry father, a gang or the police – and so we miss out on lying's more subtle everyday psychological varieties, such as denying hurt, guilt, tenderness, anxiety or sexuality.
- Deepfake is an AI-based technology used to produce or alter video content so that it presents something that didn't, in fact, occur. It can make it look as if anyone has said or done anything. Is it the next wave of (mis)information warfare, asked The Guardian?
- An IAI debate argued that in a post truth world, tribal consensus has seemingly replaced reason and evidence, and addressed the following key questions: Is this world of competing truths sustainable? Don't we need an agreed framework of thought in order to avoid a deeply fragmented and confrontational society? Can we retain reason and evidence whilst giving up on universal and objective truth? Or must there be truth in some form after all?
- Our minds often prefer righteousness over truth, according to social psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
- Many despise the arrival of a post-truth world and fear politicians who blatantly manipulate facts and peddle falsehoods. But does this rely on assuming that truth is objective and falsehoods can be simply identified, asked the Institute of Art and Ideas? Does the demise of truth mark the end of centuries of progress? Or is truth a construct of the powerful and post-truth a revolution against elites?
- China’s internet police received 6.7 million reports of illegal or false information in July, according to official data reported by GZEROMedia. Chinese laws dictate that “rumor-mongers” can be charged with defamation and sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
- The rise of a "post-truth" world, where tribal politics and emotion rule, has left many troubled. For we usually assume reason is a better guide to action than feeling. Critics though argue reason is a veneer to hide motive and emotional politics is a vital challenge to the powerful. Should we celebrate a return to honest emotion or must we silence the irrational to save us from chaos? An Institute of Ideas debate analysed this emerging post-truth world.
- Asserting belief in the face of contradicting facts rejects the pursuit of truth, claimed Aeon, arguing that belief is not knowledge. Beliefs are factive: to believe is to take to be true.
- In a world where Donald Trump declares an audio recording of his statements “fake news” and insists to supporters that “what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” it’s easy to despair for the truth, cautioned Quartz. “We have entered an age of post-truth politics,” lamented the New York Times.
- However, Simon Blackburn, philosophy professor at Cambridge University, isn’t worried. Blackburn, who received acclaim for his 2005 book Truth and has recently written another book on the subject, On Truth, says the truth has always been twisted by politicians.
- As a species, humans prefer power to truth. We spend far more time and effort on trying to control the world than on trying to understand it,” writes historian Yuval Noah Harari, arguing that post-truth world is modus operandi for Homo sapiens.
- Humans are a post-truth species, claimed Quartz, arguing that Homo sapiens have thrived by creating and sharing fake news to unite the collective.
- A recent book examined how truth and reason have become endangered species and their rarity threatens the future of our public discourse, politics and governance. Nor is this an new pheniomenon: in the same vein, Hannah Arendt’s 1967 work Truth and Politics distinguished between the non-political sphere, where a singular truth reigns, and the political sphere where truth is plural and factual.