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Giving Compass' Take:
• Truth decay has enormous implications for policy, governance, and society, as we know them. Only through research to understand and coordinated efforts to combat truth decay can we maintain logic, reason, and facts.
• How have you been a victim of and complicit in truth decay? Who can government be structured to prevent truth decay from taking root and spreading?
• Dive further into the research around truth decay at RAND.
One critical topic has only begun to receive the serious scholarly and civic attention it deserves. It is a subject with many names. It has been referred to as “post-fact” or “post-truth.” Only a small part of it is “fake news.” The various names do not describe precisely the same problems or phenomena, but for this purpose, I'll use the term employed by my colleagues at the RAND Corporation — “truth decay.”
In a recent study, “Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life,” RAND's Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich identified and defined some key aspects of truth decay. Disagreement about facts and analytical interpretation of data have become more extreme. The line between opinion and fact has become ever more blurred. And finally, the public's trust in once-respected institutions as sources of factual information has diminished.
How often have each of us chosen to look the other way or bite our tongues when somebody from “our” side, “our” party, “our” truth, espouses facts or engages in conduct that furthers truth decay? Standing up for what we know is true requires courage.
It requires individual, institutional and collective courage to challenge those with whom we generally agree when they assert “facts” which we know to be false.
The legal approach cannot and should not be the standard by which our policymaking or political life is practiced or judged. But the spirit that imbues the practice of law can, and should, guide thinking and conduct in the realm of public policy and the practice of politics.
We must summon the courage to seriously engage — to thoroughly study, evaluate, and challenge truth decay and its modern manifestations. People across the political spectrum will need to proclaim that the time for affirmative and proactive ignorance in our public policy discourse and decisionmaking must come to an end. Though there will always be political divisions and healthy disagreement on the issues, let us first try to honestly ascertain, and be guided by the facts, and the spirit of the law.
Read the full article on truth decay by Dan Grunfeld at RAND