Surviving post-truth

Some personal conclusions from the IdeaFactory session yesterday.

Go to the profile of Diane Coyle
Jun 07, 2017
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Yesterday I took part in an IdeaFactory session at the annual OECD Forum titled: 'A Survivor's Guide to a Post-Truth World'. The jury is out on whether experts (including economists) are going to be survivors, even after the session I think. As ever, though, it was fascinating, the discussion in our breakout group, really making me think above all about my personal actions: do I make enough of an effort to listen to people whose views I disagree with? or enough of an effort to overcome confirmation bias when I read things online? Another message I took away was to think about the relationship between online debate and face-to-face interaction, and the role of physical social and family networks. For example, if there are subjects on which we disagree with people close to us IRL that we can't discuss, how on earth is that debate supposed to happen in any public forum?

Anyway, I always note down what people are reading, and plenty of interesting books were mentioned. Matthew D'Ancona, one of three recent books called Post Truth (the others are by Evan Davis and by James Ball) was a speaker. (His point was that there's nothing new about the production of lies but the consumption possibilities and behaviours have changed.) So was journalism professor Brian Cathcart, co-author of Everybody's Hacked Off (and once a colleague of mine), and philosopher Vincent Henricks, co-author of Infostorms. Other titles mentioned - ones I'd not heard of - were Joi Ito's Whiplash and Joshua Cooper Ramo's The Seventh Sense. Oh, and Durkheim came up in conversation. All round, plenty to think about.

Go to the profile of Diane Coyle

Diane Coyle

Professor of Economics, University of Manchester

Economic policy

2 Comments

Go to the profile of Maurizio Travaglini
Maurizio Travaglini 6 months ago

I must admit that I ended this IdeaFactory more worried than I was before its beginning! When dealing with "post truth" issues, most of the attention tends to focus on the disruption that affected/transformed the media landscape. But yesterday the conversation in the IdeaFactory moved to a much deeper level: the 100 people who worked together for three hours focused on the deep changes in how we live, connect, think, learn, seek connections, subscribe to new ideologies, develop the capacity to work with differences. Yes: digital disruptions matter. But we might need to explore how they are transforming the individual and the collective identities. I found inspiration in the comment about Primo Levi's reflection: "It is not at all an idle matter trying to define what a human being is." What if "being human" is becoming a different thing?

Go to the profile of Diane Coyle
Diane Coyle 6 months ago

I agree with you Maurizio - in fact, I ended up worried about authenticity in all the important institutions in our society, not just the media - and also in personal life, as I noted in the post.