Saturday, December 3, 2016

`Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford Dictionaries declared that its international word of the year in 2016 is "post-truth", citing a 2,000% increase in usage compared to 2015. Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which:

(1) Debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy.

(2) The repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.

(3) Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of "secondary" importance.

The term "post-truth politics" was coined by the blogger David Roberts on April 1, 2010, where it was defined as”

"A political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy (the substance of legislation)".

The term became widespread during the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election in the United States and the 2016 referendum on membership in the European Union in the United Kingdom.

A defining trait of post-truth politics is that campaigners continue to repeat their talking points, even if these are found to be untrue by the media or independent experts.

Michael Deacon, parliamentary sketchwriter for The Daily Telegraph, summarized the core message of post-truth politics as:

"Facts are negative. Facts are pessimistic. Facts are unpatriotic."

Hossein Derakhshan spent six years of incarceration in Tehran as punishment for online activism.

“Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside.

Our habits and our emotions are killing us and our planet. Let’s resist their lethal appeal.”

Derakhshan provides some very good options for resisting them:

(1) If algorithms don't give us different or opposing views, we should actively try to be exposed to them.

(2) Follow people or pages who are not suggested to us by searching for related keywords.

(3) Confuse algorithms by liking what we dislike, so they produce a more diverse stream of information.

(4) Encourage social media to disclose some aspects of their algorithms and make them customizable.

(5) Tell social media we want more options to react to posts with our minds rather than hearts: agree/disagree or trust/suspect buttons, instead of like/dislike.


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