Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew d'Ancona
|Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew d'Ancona|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: Peter Magee|
|Summary: D'Ancona looks at how truth, veracity and accountability have been replaced by appeals to emotion.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: May 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Our own post-truth era is what happens when society relaxes its defence of values that underpin cohesion, namely veracity, honesty and accountability.
I'm old enough or perhaps naive enough to believe that when making a decision about political voting, you should be able to rely absolutely on what the candidate tells you. I've been suspicious for a decade or more, but it's become difficult to ignore the change in political attitudes since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. With regard to the latter, when Trump was challenged on a statement he'd made which was subsequently found to be incorrect, his response was Who cares if I got it wrong? He was able to tap into the fading concept of 'the American Dream' - those Americans who were used to waiting patiently in line and who had found themselves overtaken by women, immigrants and public sector workers.
Emotion, rather than fact or logic, appealed to the tribal instincts of a particular type of voter. Distrust was central to Vote Leave's appeal coupled with an unwillingness to accept traditional sources of information. A classic example of this, cited in the book, is Michael Gove's famous comment that Britain has had enough of experts. D'Ancona says that we could be forgiven for thinking that the propaganda which we were used to seeing in Soviet Russia has now migrated to the West.
According to d'Ancona digital technology has been the principal driver of post truth. He cites the example of Cambridge Analytica (who specialise in data analysis) and who, on their database hold details of 220 million American voters and can produce psychometric profiles of each person based on their Facebook pages.
D'Ancona believes that all is not yet lost: he insists that truth will out, courage, persistence and collaborative spirit will be rewarded, but it is necessary that remedies are found. For example, Google and Facebook must acknowledge their responsibilities (and they are taking some steps in that direction already), but it is essential that we teach children how to select and discriminate from the digital torrent that they are faced with. Legislators have a responsibility too in that the law has not kept pace with technological change.
It's a slim book and a reasonably quick and easy read. I worried that it might have been rushed out in advance of the June 2017 General Election and that whilst it might be of interest at that point, it would not have enduring relevance afterwards. It is particularly relevant at the time of publication, but the points d'Ancona makes about the need for vigilance and a critical attitude to what we are told are, in fact, timeless.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg and Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley.
You can read more book reviews or buy Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew d'Ancona at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew d'Ancona at Amazon.com.
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