We now live in a ‘Post-Truth’ World

“… with the new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant.” 


w-post-truth-banner1On 16 November 2016 the Oxford Dictionaries announced it had chosen “post-truth” as their word of the year. Its use, editors said, had ‘spiked’ because of the UK’s Brexit vote and the political rise of Donald Trump in the USA and his subsequent election as President.  

Below is a link to a thoughtful piece written by Kristy Siegfried, Migration Editor for the IRIN news agency which considers ‘Migration facts in a post-truth world’.

“… it’s hard to argue with the notion that we’re now living in a “post-truth” era in which objective facts often hold less weight than emotional appeals and “fake news” when it comes to shaping public opinion,” she writes. Siegfried considers ‘post-truth’ under the headings of ‘Refugees are a security threat’; ‘The [migant and asylum seekers] “crisis” narrative’; ‘Development aid to the rescue’; and ‘Migrants and refugees are a drain on the economy’.

Oxford Dictionaries define ‘post-truth’ as “relating or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

“Post-truth”, it says, “has gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary.” It noted that usage of the word had increased by 2,000 percent since 2015.

The president of Oxford Dictionaries, Casper Grathwohl, said that their choice of the word wasn’t surprising and “reflects a year dominated by highly-charged political and social discourse.”

“Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment,” Casper continued, “’post-truth’ as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time. We first saw the frequency really spike this year in June with buzz over the Brexit vote and again in July when Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination.”

Oxford Dictionaries says it traced the first use of ‘post-truth’ to a 1992 essay by late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in The Nation magazine about the Iran-Contra scandal and the Gulf War. “We, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world,” Tesich wrote.

“There is evidence of the phrase ‘post-truth’ being used before Tesich’s article,” the Oxford Dictionaries statement says, “but apparently with the transparent meaning ‘after the truth was known’ and not with the new implication that truth itself has become irrelevant.”

You can access Kristy Siegfried’s IRIN piece by clicking here:

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