Navigating a Post-Truth World

The Oxford English Dictionary (ÔED) selected “post-truth” as its 2016 Word of the Year, beating out such words as alt-right, coulrophobia (an extreme or irrational fear of clowns) and Latinx (a gender-neutral Latino or Latina) as words that showed dramatic increased usage in 2016. The ÔED defines post-truth as “‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’” Now let’s think about this term for a minute: Does “post-truth” accurately reflect the zeitgeist of our times or is its spike in usage an election year fad? I venture the opinion that it is the former and that post-truth thinking will shape our society for many years to come. I am not alone in my opinion. For example, see William Davies’s “The Age of Post-Truth Politics” and David Ignatius’s “In Today’s World, The Truth Is Losing.” This issue poses significant challenges for those of us in higher education. How do we educate our students to be global citizens and agents of change if our culture no longer views the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion as a worthwhile pursuit and even questions the existence of objective fact?

To read more of this piece written by Jackie Kremer and appearing on Fairfield University's ThinkSpace blog, go here.