Tag Archives: Alternative Facts

#76 – The Evolution of Alternative Facts

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of the Pro-Truth Pledge about the battle for honest discourse. This is an important consideration. During a speech at the White House in January 2017, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, famously said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” This statement has been endlessly mocked, but, in more serious terms, it has come to represent, as stated shortly afterwards without irony by Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, as not being a lie, but an entirely different version of the truth. Spicer, explained Conway, was not being dishonest, but was dealing in “alternative facts”. Comparisons to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four were manifestly obvious and, indeed, were deeply indicative of a very real problem. What is the answer to alternative facts? Utilising research in behavioral science, Dr. Tsipursky is leading a team effort to address post-truth politics, fake news, and those unscrupulous alternative facts. Dr. Tsipursky is asking people, be they members of congress or members of the public, to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge as a commitment to deal in only one type of fact, and not the alternative variety. Dr. Tsipursky explains the motivation behind this movement, and outlines his hopes for a more honest arena of public discourse. Why are humans so easily misled? What can be done about fake news? Is it possible that Donald Trump would sign such a pledge? How has social media been manipulated to spread misinformation, and can this be prevented? These questions, including a fascinating look at why humans are, from an evolutionary standpoint, poorly equipped to deal with the modern age, are featured in this episode.

For more information on the Pro-Truth Pledge, or to sign the pledge, head to https://www.protruthpledge.org/take-the-pro-truth-pledge/

Expanded show notes:

‘Richard Dawkins: We’re too stupid to decide on EU (that includes me)’, The Times, 23 May 2016.

‘Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign’s ‘£350m for the NHS’ pledge hours after result’, The Independent, 24 June 2016.

Related episode:

#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts
#17 – The Fake News Agenda
#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

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#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts

In this edition of the Aidan Project Podcast, Aidan is joined by Richard Keeble, who is none other than the Chairman of the Orwell Society. Richard is a retired Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln and has written extensively about Orwell, including a critical assessment of Orwell’s war reporting, and also wrote a chapter in the 2012 book, Orwell Today, which he also edited, looking at Orwell’s complex relationship with the intelligence services. Richard and Aidan look at Orwell’s two most famous works, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four (and the latter’s huge spike in sales), and discuss what Orwell would have made of “alternative facts” in the new media age. Would Orwell be blogging online, attacking Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer for their doublethink with his unique command of language? We also discuss Orwell’s life, his schooling, the shooting of an elephant in Burma, being wounded in Spain, his tremendous wit and his untimely death, in addition to discussing separating fact from fiction in his work, and much more besides. He (or she) who listens to this podcast will know the future. But you might not be able to control the past. For more information on The Orwell Society, please visit http://www.orwellsociety.com/

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