Welcome to the post-truth era of alternative facts

Tuesday July 31 2018

Ms Terry  Ramadhani is a senior manager in the

Ms Terry  Ramadhani is a senior manager in the Human Resources Department, East Africa Aga Khan University 

With the renaissance of spin we witnessed departure of information from being primarily based on fact to being based on whatever we wanted the story to be, of course driven by intense interests, be it political, financial, sensationalism, etc.

I am certain that most of us have seen the videos that do rounds to no end claiming that they found that an item of food that is sold in a supermarket near us is fake, for example a plastic cabbage or a plastic egg et cetera. To be quite honest I am yet to come across any of the plastic items that are referred to in many of the videos. I often wonder how many of us actually have? I suspect the nearest we have seen these plastic products is in those videos that we frightfully watch and then pass on to others to see the horrors of modern food chains.

Today we talk of alternative facts as if it is an actual thing, as if there is in fact a replacement for fact. The current entire landscape as far as information sharing in the world today is as sad as it is absurd. There used to be a time when experts spoke, we accepted that they gave us the truth; the best that they knew of the matter at hand in full honesty. Now when experts speak, we look at each other with knowing glances as if to ask whose payroll they are in? Our leaders are not immune to this phenomenon. We have tonnes of examples where world leaders have spit out one lie after another and in fact when caught lying, they respond by lying some more. I feel saddened that somehow we are normalizing this behavior and accepting that in someway it is excusable to exist in this alternative reality where fact and lies are deployed almost interchangeably.

A report by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich earlier this year titled The Truth Decay defined truth decay as a set of four related trends, which are:

1. Increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data

2. A blurring of the line between opinion and fact