We dispute the idea of post truth. There’s no such phase or condition. Things are more complex, more interrelated, harder to describe or visualize, but certainly not unavailable for cognition. Sometimes we need a pen and a piece of paper, but we still can get to the truth. Sensors on satellites are completely non-partisan and as unambiguous as imminent danger signals in nuclear plants.
There are certainly things we agree on, like the earth is roughly spherical and the moon is not made out of cheese, and so on. What? You think we always agreed on those? God no! Every corner of the earth had its own explanation in its own language, with its own pissed-off tribal gods and calendars. It took study and commitment, and hard work on the part of legendary people to develop consensus around the shape of the earth and the material of the moon. It wasn’t easy and there wasn’t always agreement. They worked out a system called science to get consensus. Scientists were also open to revolutions; didn’t like them, nor encourage them, but were open to them. But science aside, we may disagree on whether or not we need an umbrella, however, we can agree that it’s raining.
How is it that the population has to agree, if Supreme court justices can’t agree?
Can we devise a way to figure out and get agreement among lawyers and judges about the really important stuff like if radioactivity in the environment is bad for you or not? That should be easier. If there was a mechanism for agreement, consensus, rather than majority-rule for somethings, maybe we could learn some agreement practices that might help with more controversial stuff.
Name-calling and running off to corners should be reserved for decisions about what to watch on Netflix, not decisions to pull out of wars.
Facts do exist and we have agreed on them before and we will agree on them again. We have enough media designed to create drama and conflict. We are very good at that and we enjoy watching it in our movies and entertainment. It’s agreement and empathy with which we need help.
Whatever systems we have for creating and bringing about consensus and empathy, they are not working very well. We don’t need majority rule, we need consensus and sometimes, like a jury, we need full agreement. We need help defining, displaying, and exposing agendas before we start working on the really ambitious stuff like whether or not it’s a good idea to budget for inspecting highly pressurized deep-water oil wells frequently and adequately.
It’s not a post-truth world. It’s just a bullshit-rich environment. Getting around bullshit and then proving it was bullshit can be hard nowadays. There are so many agendas. We need to figure out how to create consensus about the hard stuff, like economics, legal and financial consequences, and civics. We have to figure out how to get past bullshit and create consensus in the non-sciences.
We have to invent our way out of this. No, not through artificial intelligence and the rest of that, misguided, indolent pipe dream. We need real, new inventions, unavailable as apps, that put our mind and the limitless power of our cognition back in the center of our instruments. Anyone in the media who believes in post-fact ought to either stop flying first-class, or stop aspiring to do so. Or quit and go do something else. We can do better, we can dig deeper, we can work harder. We can’t go down whining; I bet we can agree on that.