Emergence of Post-Truth to be Discussed Nov. 1 at Noble Building

Image of one hand with two fingers crossed

Are we living in a post-truth world, where “alternative facts” replace actual facts and feelings have more weight than evidence? If so, how did we get here?

Those questions will be addressed during “Philosophy On Tap: Discussion of the book Post-Truth by Lee C. McIntyre” on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 7-9 p.m. in the Noble Building Banquet Center, 500 W. Western Ave., in downtown Muskegon.

The discussion, which is free and open to the public, will be led by MCC Philosophy Instructor Conor Roddy. The event is sponsored by the 2018 Muskegon Area Arts and Humanities Festival (ahFest), whose month-long events are related to this year’s festival theme of “Truth.”

McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and an Instructor in Ethics at Harvard Extension School.  He holds a B.A. in philosophy of social science from Wesleyan University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

In his book, McIntyre traces the development of the post-truth phenomenon from science denial through the rise of “fake news,” from our psychological blind spots to the public’s retreat into “information silos.”

McIntyre analyzes recent examples—claims about inauguration crowd size, crime statistics, and the popular vote—and finds that post-truth is an assertion of ideological supremacy by which its practitioners try to compel someone to believe something regardless of the evidence.

But post-truth didn’t begin with the 2016 election, notes McIntyre. The denial of scientific facts about smoking, evolution, vaccines, and climate change offers a road map for more widespread fact denial. Add to this the wired-in cognitive biases that make us feel that our conclusions are based on good reasoning even when they are not, the decline of traditional media and the rise of social media, and the emergence of fake news as a political tool, and we have the ideal conditions for post-truth.

McIntyre also argues provocatively that the right wing borrowed from postmodernism—specifically, the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth—in its attacks on science and facts. He argues that we can fight post-truth, and that the first step in fighting post-truth is to understand it.

For more information on the event, contact Conor Roddy at (231) 777-0297 or conor.roddy@muskegoncc.edu