Facts and ethics in a post-truth era

There is an old Chinese saying that translates as, "May you live in interesting times." While you may think this is a nice thing to wish someone, it actually is a curse, because interesting in this context means chaos and unrest. We are, indeed, living in some interesting times.

Text by Leah Guren


Facts and ethics in a post-truth era

Image: © flyparade/istockphoto.com

In the past few months, we have witnessed political upheavals in Great Britain with Brexit. We’ve seen populist initiatives or candidates on the ballot in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Hungary (to name just a few). Most prominent is the situation in the United States, where an authoritarian administration has launched an all-out propaganda assault against the press, going so far as to ban the New York Times, the BBC, the Washington Post, CNN, and other venerable media journals from White House briefings.

The sight of a major world leader spouting blatant lies and attacking facts as "false" and reputable journalists as purveys of "fake news" is shocking. In a world where many people do not read reliable, vetted news sources, but rely on biased sound bites or whatever pops up in their Facebook feed, defending facts has become more and more difficult.

For those of us in technical ...