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How did post-truth happen?

post-truth-oxford

I will preface this post by apologising for its elitist, condescending tone. I understand how unhelpful it is to metaphorically look-down at Trump supporters, and that part of the reason they are Trump supporters is because people like me looked-down on them for so long that they are now revolting against elitist snobbery. But I don’t see any way to discuss this issue in a way which doesn’t fit the elitist narrative. And besides, I know most of my audience probably fit this elitist mould just as much as I do. It’s important we know why the parallel anti-expert-post-truth world Trump created is so attractive to his supporters if we’re going to defend against it in Australia, so although I’m sorry for the condensation, I don’t apologise for the discussion.

Today I want to look at the post-truth social and news media echo-chamber which managed to put Trump on its shoulders, carry him to a pedestal, and place him unquestioning atop of it. Now that this raging machine have put their man in their White House, they have not stopped their effort to defend their King. They have not put down their keyboard, content at their victory, assured that they have been vindicated in their opinions and are now happy to go on their merry way helping Trump to apparently ‘make America Great again’. No. They’re still busy either crowing about their victory on social media (the popular line seems to be them mocking liberal tears), or attacking their King’s opponents. As a movement, they’re still working hard to ensure that everything Trump says and does is protected against fair scrutiny by the giant wall of anger and resentment Trump very cleverly built around himself and whenever anyone dares to criticise of even question Trump, his keyboard supporters pile on as a unified army.

This post-truth world might just be the scariest part of Trump’s ascendancy. That is why I think it’s important to take a closer look at how it came to be.

Every individual tweet which includes news about the US election has responses that perfectly represent the two polarised camps that have formed in the post-truth world. Those who argue with facts, and those who argue with stubborn opinions that are cemented in stone. It is not fair to characterise these camps by saying the stubborn camp sided wholly with Trump, and the facts camp with Clinton, because that is a simplistic analysis which isn’t fair or helpful. Either way, it only takes a cursory scroll through the two types of tweets to see exactly how dangerous the post-truth community has become. The reason for this is because they’ve learned to be cynical and untrusting of what they term to be ‘elites’, to the point where they latch onto a conspiracy and without any critical analysis of whether their opinion reflects reality, they whip up a fire-storm of hatred against the elite which is completely impervious to reason or attempts to contradict it. Here is an example.

Jill Stein, leader of the US Greens, who is currently heading a campaign to raise funds for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan tweeted this comment, complaining about the cost and bureaucratic headache of organising the recount (a statement which is, ironically, very anti-establishment).

stein-tweet

Now look at some of the responses to this tweet, and note how many shares they have received in appreciation. Quickly, a conspiracy theory has flared up accusing Stein, and in turn, Sanders, of raising funds for the recount which they are then going to apparently keep for themselves by committing fraud and therefore deserving to, just like Hillary, be ‘locked up’.

cash-out

arrest-her-jill-stein

meme

meme2

I know there have always been, and probably always will be, conspiracy theorists on the internet. But Trump supporters have turned conspiracy theories from a fringe game to a mainstream electoral movement.

I have no doubt that many of these people have every justification for distrusting the establishment government and what they see as a ruling-elite. They feel they let them down. They have seen their jobs disappear, their towns lose all sense of community, they’ve been sent to unnecessary wars and America hasn’t lived up to their expectation of being the land of opportunity. But, and this is where I’m going to receive howls of ‘you’re an elitist and part of the problem’, there is also a problem here with these people’s ability to reason and to critically judge information. This problem occurs when they bypass a healthy cynicism – a necessary second-look at establishment practices – and instead jump straight to angry, stubborn cynicism, mistrust and hatred for only those they disagree with to come up with, frankly, quite nutty campaigns that are illogical and self-defeating.

I say illogical because it’s just ridiculous that these people believe that Stein and Sanders are going to raise funds for a recount and then give up on the recount so they can scamper off with the profits. That’s just not going to happen. Even if you believed Stein and Sanders to be so corrupt that they would want to steal this money, there is no logical process by which the money can be transferred from the recount fund into Stein and Sander’s bank accounts. To believe it could happen is beyond cynical and is instead dangerously gullible. What this gullibility also reveals is that the mistrust and disrespect shown to experts of any kind, who are thrown in the elitist bin along with anyone else they deem to have wronged them, has extended to a mistrust and disrespect for facts. Experts provide facts, experts are wrong, therefore facts are wrong. And any person with a keyboard has an opinion worth believing, as long, of course, as you agree with that opinion. See why I’m scared?

I say self-defeating because, actually, there is no harm done to Trump supporters through the vote recount campaign – it’s not their money, it’s come from donations from people who support the recount. And you would think all Americans prefer to be sure that their election system is not rigged, as Trump complained it was for weeks on end. The rigged part, apparently, they only agree with if Trump says it, not one of their opponents. In actual fact, there are many elements of the American political system which do, justifiably, make it feel like the elites, the rich, have rigged the process in their favour; but the irony of all of this is that Trump is one of those elites who had serious power in the electoral process through his donations to both sides of politics, and regularly used this power to benefit his business interests, to give himself more power, to the point where he had enough power to run for President by saying the whole system is rigged. We need a stronger word for ironic.

Although you might think I’ve finished with my elitist put-down, unfortunately, I haven’t. The post-truth world didn’t happen by accident. I’ve read thousands of words during and since the election which try to explain the demographic and value-driven voting behaviour of Trump versus Clinton voters, and there is one that stood out to me. Perhaps it stood out because it was a fact which fitted my preconceived opinions – which are the best types of facts don’t you think? This one was a pretty credible fact though, if we’re having a debate about which fact is better, which we’re not because we are trying to deal with a post-truth world where facts are apparently the enemy. Anyway, back to my arsenal of facts. This one is from credible-big-data-pollster Nate Silver, who found that education levels were a bigger predictor of voting behaviour than income. Silver suggests that the catch-all term ‘elites’ may actually just be a proxy for people with a post-high-school education. He says the Trump voters were much more likely to only have a high-school education, whereas Clinton voters were much more likely to have a post-high-school education. Again, this might just sound like I’m putting Trump voters in the ‘too stupid to vote’ category, but I’m not doing that. I’m trying to help. Honestly.

What do we learn at university or in vocational education? Apart from learning a specialised set of skills to set us up for a profession that requires particular expertise which is particularly useful in a post-globalisation world where manual jobs are disappearing. Apart from learning to respect our peers and teachers for their contributions in specialised fields, to respect their expertise, their experience, and their imparting of useful facts. Apart from all that, we learn how to think. We learn how to reason. We learn how to critically assess information and to draw rational conclusions. Every assignment, every class, every discussion at post-high-school level builds these competencies. These competencies are, sorry to sound elitist again, a massive asset in life. To be able to see real events happening in front of you, and to question them, to think about them, to recall past events and compare them, to make reasoned and eloquent arguments about what you think, and to do this in a civil and productive way, is important, not just to individuals but also to the success of whole societies.

The post-truth world, if it has any of this type of thinking, doesn’t have nearly enough. Where a debate between people who hold different, informed positions is healthy, rejection of facts from experts because expertise and experience are deemed to be automatically untrustworthy is not. Where cynicism is healthy, stubborn-unthinking-partisan-cynicism is not. So, as much as I know this sounds like a pie-in-the-sky when we need a much quicker and easier fix for the post-truth world, really, the answer is more accessible and better education for all.

Those who feel left behind by the establishment, who hate that they’ve been left behind, aren’t going to be convinced by your reasoned arguments that they’re voting against their best interests when they are unable to assess the information in front of them and draw logical conclusions. When they’ve wedded themselves to Trump and they believe everything he does is wonderful and everything his opponents do is corrupt and immoral, they’re not going to be convinced to listen to your point of view, to your rational analysis of why they are mistaken. Your dot points of facts is going to bounce right off them. This is not about Trump supporters being dumb. This is about them being uneducated. You want to make sure Trump doesn’t get elected again? Then educate the masses. Not just the privileged people who can afford it.

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44 comments

  1. ozfenric

    I suspect that “post-truth” began with the war against climate action. For decades we’ve had a cavalcade of “experts” happily casting doubt upon the recognised facts of global warming. The concept that “the scientists” are wilfully collaborating in a giant conspiracy to somehow enrich themselves by doing dodgy research has gained such a foothold that many believe it uncritically. It makes no sense at all when you think about it; there would be far more fame and profit involved in scientifically proving that climate change fears are unfounded.

    Having been conditioned to believe that a vast global conspiracy at the expense of the “everyday people” is even possible, it becomes so much easier to spin that distrust into a cynicism about your political opponents. Ready and able to utilise that cynicism to its fullest are the real conspirators – the misinformation machine that raised Donald Trump to power and stand ready to control their puppet President. If you haven’t already seen it, look at George Monbiot’s article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation

    Or perhaps it all started with Big Tobacco. It’s well known that the misinformation campaign that so effectively sabotaged the world’s ability to save itself from climate change was modelled on the one used to delay for decades the recognition that smoking is actually harmful. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/fight-misinformation/global-warming-facts-and-fossil-fuel-industry-disinformation-tactics.html

  2. wam

    For me, the rabbott spouted pre-truths which became post-lies. The wall/fence is one of the expected 100s of trumpian pre-truths.
    Victoria has it been a long time since you went to uni? Today there are 10s of thousands who a illiterate and enumerate all with mounting debts and with courses devoid of “We learn how to critically assess information and to draw rational conclusions.”
    Educate the masses?? The bell curve suggests that requires a brain gene.

  3. Matters Not

    Good article Victoria, reinforced by ozfenric’s links and insights.

    Very worrying, especially for someone like me who doesn’t have the ‘belief’.

  4. Kaye Lee

    ozfenric,

    I hadn’t seen that Monbiot article.

    “Corporate-funded thinktanks and fake grassroots groups are now everywhere. The fake news we should be worried about is not stories invented by Macedonian teenagers about Hillary Clinton selling arms to Islamic State, but the constant feed of confected scares about unions, tax and regulation drummed up by groups that won’t reveal their interests.”

    And look what’s happening here.

  5. paulwalter

    Ozfenric neatly rounds it off.

  6. Steve Laing

    I read today that an armed gunman had turned up at a busy Washington restaurant and fired shots in the air because he had read a post-truth article that Hillary Clinton and her Vice presidential candidate had set up a paedophilia network that they were operating from the toilets of the afore-mentioned restaurant, and so he had taken it upon himself to close it down – with an automatic rifle.

    I used to be of the belief that the internet and particularly social media would be great enablers of democracy, but the evidence is that a significant minority are easy enough to manipulate (including from troll farms abroad) that they have actually become extremely dangerous. Remember half the people in the country have under average intelligence – though I suspect I will also be accused of being elitist by saying so. Fortunately we still have decent gun control here, although again a vocal enough minority seem to want to change that. Heaven forbid.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Steve,

    Trump’s national security adviser helped spread the story…..

    A fake news story was even tweeted by General Mike Flynn, Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser. In the 3 November tweet he linked to a discredited story that suggested Hillary Clinton and her “crew” were involved in child abuse and added the comment “U decide.”

    General Flynn ✔ @GenFlynn

    U decide – NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc…MUST READ!

    http://truepundit.com/breaking-bombshell-nypd-blows-whistle-on-new-hillary-emails-money-laundering-sex-crimes-with-children-child-exploitation-pay-to-play-perjury/

    1:18 PM – 3 Nov 2016
    8,864 Retweets 7,926 likes

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/05/gunman-detained-at-comet-pizza-restaurant-was-self-investigating-fake-news-reports

    So a guy with a gun turns up because the national security adviser told him to decide for himself, which is what he told the police he was doing

  8. Michael Taylor

    Steve/Kaye, (without trying to make this place sound like an echo-chamber, of which we’ve been accused) that is just appalling.

  9. Alan Baird

    Hi there fellow members of the elite. I watch in a growing sense of schadenfreude (a big word I gratuitously included to exclude the non- cognoscenti) as Monsieur Trump continues to employ personnel with backgrounds from the swamp he promised to drain. This all makes a KIND of sense. Some time ago I googled trompe l’oeil (trick of the eyes, optical illusion) after it occurred to me that “Trump” had a connection with “trick” as in card playing and therefore possibly connected with another type of “trick”. Lo and behold, “Trump” had all sorts of connotations with deceit and porkies. I hadn’t anticipated such a rich vein of irony. Now I see why the first action Trump REALLY sounds likely to follow through with NO conflict of interest (just kidding) would be a corporate tax cut! To clarify: that cut is for people who have a LOT to do with Wall St. ‘n’ stuff like that. And, as the myth goes, it’s bound to trickle… all right… drip… alright, some vapour may be emitted… in the fullness of time, down on the great unwashed who lerve Trump. But don’t hold your breath. Your lips’ll turn blue. Another cargo cult.

  10. Steve Laing

    It is staggering, isn’t it Michael. I mean what chance has mankind got in this type of environment. Stupidity has always existed, but for it to be now exalted, whilst simultaneously deriding knowledge and expertise, is beyond belief. Because if you deign to disagree you are either an avocado smashing elitist, or a benefit scrounging leaner.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Back to the days of the wild, wild West, Steve.

  12. Jexpat

    Post-truth happens when ethical barriers break down, where abjects falsehoods- demonstrably false statements are elevated to the same level as objective facts, and opinion is conflated with what can be proven by recourse to credible sources (agreed upon facts) and logical argument.

  13. silkworm

    The term “post-truth” is just a revamped version of the word “truthiness’ invented by Stephen Colbert during George W. Bush’s presidency.

  14. OrchidJar

    Victoria,
    Unfortunately, the Conservatives have no exclusive rights to those abhorrent conspiracy theories.
    To wit:
    Initially the Dems blamed Comey.
    After Comey we had Assange followed by Putin.
    Then they blamed the electoral college and called into question the legitimacy and history of the US voting process.
    They then turned their attentions to alleged ‘rigging’ by the Republicans (looking at you Krugman).
    Next came the millennials and the minority’s.
    Then Facebook.
    After that we had ‘fake news’ and the Sanders campaign.
    Finally we had the media, who despite being overwhelmingly behind her campaign managed to sabotage her ‘message’.
    Failing all of that we’re now handed this recount nonsense.

    Every move they make that takes them further from looking at why they lost voters; why they were unable to speak to the concerns of these voters, is a step closer to electoral oblivion.

    Labour needs to study that example and insist upon a rigourous examination of its own policies – excising the Liberal-lite tag, returning to economic fundamentals, and ultimately recalibrating its political and moral intuitions on policy ranging from education to asylum seekers.
    Speaking of education, yes, I think you are absolutely correct when you place it as THE essential antidote to post-truth.

    Although I am somewhat puzzled as to why this term has suddenly gained such high currency. Haven’t we always lived in a (political) world where emotion trumps fact? Hasn’t our discourse always been defined by appeals to our own personal beliefs and ideologies? Especially here, on the blogosphere, ESPECIALLY HERE, where anyone with a computer and opinion is suddenly granted some kind of authority and legitimacy simply by pressing the submit post button? The open field of this space, the democracy of opinion that it fosters, is in my opinion, an extremely unfortunate thing that will only continue to bear bad fruit.

    Or has the simple fact of the terms canonization by OED somehow made it an easier thing to talk about now?

    A wonderful, thought provoking, article.
    Thank you.

  15. Exoplanet

    OrchidJar,

    Those formatting tags you asked for. I’m leaving off the final closing bracket so they don’t actually format and disappear:

    Italic: words</i
    Bold words</b
    Underline: words</u
    Quote:

    words</blockquote
    Brevity: entire post</br – ok, this one might not be real.

    There ya go.

  16. ozfenric

    OrchidJar, you’re talking about a different malaise. The left are not typically subject to this kind of post-truth – i.e. falsehoods presented and accepted as truth. I say this with some hesitation – as a member of “the left” I wouldn’t necessarily know if I was uncritically accepting a falsehood, but I do try to verify the source and trustworthiness of anything I propagate. On a practical level, the misinformation networks that are behind much of this stuff operate on the right; the left doesn’t have a network of vested interests aiming to sway public opinion away from facts.

    Democrats and Greens and Laborites are perfectly able to self-deceive when they don’t want to accept uncomfortable truths; this is human behaviour. But there is a world of difference between publishing an op-ed blaming Assange or Putin for the failure of Hillary’s campaign, and distributing a tweet claiming that Obama wants to lock Christians in internment camps. Investigating and arguing about politics is valid, even if the analysis misses the mark. It still doesn’t approach making up a statement out of thin air and having it accepted with no evidence provided or sought.

  17. David Stephens

    Great piece Victoria. Straight to the Honest History trophy room http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/donalds-are-trumps-going-deeper-after-the-breast-beating/ a very partial (in the sense of incomplete but probably the other sense also) collection of bits and pieces. FWIW I take comfort from the fact that only a quarter of US eligible voters put their hand up to support Trump and some of these freely admit he’s nuts. Meanwhile, far out on the edge in Alaska friends of ours are horrified by the outcome and fight the good fight for cross-partisan reform in the local legislature.

  18. OrchidJar

    ozfenric, I was referring specifically to Rollison’s “conspiracy theory” points:

    1. “to the point where they latch onto a conspiracy and without any critical analysis of whether their opinion reflects reality”
    2. “But Trump supporters have turned conspiracy theories from a fringe game to a mainstream electoral movement”,

    and just trying to demonstrate that on this score there is little difference between the two ideologies.

    I agree with your post.
    I can’t really find any left parallel for what we’re seeing now. Then again, I could find no real parallels for the forebears of this horrific situation either: Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, Hannity, Ingraham, O’Reilly

    I have a theory though, of sorts, that the rise of conservative post-truth corresponds uncannily with the rise of the left pc authoritarianism most prevalent in universities.
    The ruling motif of both is the privileging of “emotion(al reasoning)”, “feeling”, and “self-determined” truths.
    I suspect that the right, forever on the wrong end of the left’s martial “emotional logic”, have decided to fight fire with fire.
    And so here we are: a culture war now fought on two wide fronts.
    Here is an opening salvo from the coming presidency:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-post-truth-world-of-the-trump-administration-is-scarier-than-you-think/2016/12/02/ebda952a-b897-11e6-b994-f45a208f7a73_story.html?utm_term=.a402c880f915

    Yep, you read right: “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, of facts”.

    Into the breach!

  19. OrchidJar

    Exoplanet,

    Thank you.

  20. OrchidJar

    Very much
    I shall use them judiciously.

  21. Jexpat

    The “rise of PC left authroarianism?”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean?

    Sounds like someone’s been listening to -and is now spounting off, the likes of Hannity, et al.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Do I understand you correctly here OJ? Are you saying that, if we ask people to be civil, they will respond by telling lies and spreading misinformation and that is the fault of the people who prefer if we don’t insult and humiliate people? I don’t follow.

  23. Archaic

    I have, like others, also found myself wondering at this term “post-truth” and how it differs from “lies”. There has been so much time and space dedicated to exploring Trump’s victory, but how is any of what he does that new or innovative?

    Scapegoats are not new. Channeling resentment at minorities is not new. Insults are not new. Hyperbole is not new. Ad hominem attacks are not new. Boasting is not new. Using fear and division for political gain is not new. Perhaps Mr Trump is notable in terms of the scale of his inconsistency and falsehhoods, but little of what he has done is new or different. Having railed against the “elites” and pledged to “drain the swamp” he now seems to be constructing a cabinet of made out of insider power brokers and establishment figures, even Ben Carson whom he publicly excoriated as a psychopath. But hypocrisy is not new

    I wonder if the phenomenon behind Trump is rather that of “peak cynicism” in which the public have lost all faith in the integrity of the political system to represent them, rather than the financially powerful and their lobbyists, such that they have concluded that their vote is best given to an apparent outsider to the political system. It seems that some are already realising that they have been had. I agree with the need to educate all of our populace, about the corruption of democracy and need for reform of donations, lobbyists and post-politics sinecures

  24. Kay Schieren

    Honesty is the basis for good decisions based on good information. The truth (honesty product) is counteracted by fear, greed and ignorance – which is generated in our society by vested interests using long-term strategies and marketing / spin to produce a surreal state of mind, thus alienating people from the reality of our life support system and our impact on it, and the inevitable consequences on our quality of life. But the fear does not disappear – it just gets sublimated into other issues such as safety standards, security, racism, etc. Eventually truth ceases to exist as a desirable concept and is replaced by a more fervent search for acceptance from peers, pleasant behavior, people to blame for unpleasant feelings and reactions, etc. Bullshit rules and we go down into a well of greater illusion and delusion, becoming more impractical and less skilled in survival, until the natural consequence (or nature’s goal?), mass extinction, is achieved.

  25. James Moylan

    A good article but the initial comments regarding being perceived as an elitist does worry me.
    One of the biggest problems we have are the constant assaults on our most intelligent and reasonable voices by some of the least rational and repugnant people on the basis that the ‘elites’ dare to ‘know stuff’.
    There is no such a thing as ‘post truth’. It is a phrase that needs to be abandoned. It simply acts as an acceptable euphemism for lies, misinformation, propaganda, or conspiracy theories. These are generally deliberate forms of lying and need to be labelled as such,

  26. Karl Young

    Trumps ascendancy appears very similar to Hitler rise in the mid to late thirties.Promise prosperity and a feeling of superiority by the manipulation of peoples fears and anger and patriotism.You will have the people in your back pocket.

  27. OrchidJar

    James, whereas the pejorative (term) was once used to describe “ivory tower” intellectualism, it has now broadened substantially to define those small, insular, and often incestuous, relations between those that wield disproportionate power over our political and social lives: elite politics and elite media. The most important aspect of the term is that it speaks directly to the biases or ideologies of those doing the wielding – generally of same politics, background, gender, class, wealth, religion.
    Ironically, tragically, the rise of citizen news, blogs, reporting etc, whilst suggesting that an alternative to the elites news stranglehold has been found has in fact produced an almost opposite effect: the elite media is now able to manipulate a far larger proportion of the electorate via viral dissemination of lies, or post truth, if you will.
    It’s a terrible state of affairs and it’s very difficult to imagine a situation where that won’t continue.
    Trump’s victory is an almost second order issue for me now; the things that are happening around it are of almost equal if not greater significance.

  28. Kaye Lee

    While everyone moans about Naplan and PISA etc…

    Tuesday, 1st November 2016

    Our student wins international aerospace ideas competition

    The UNSW students’ project, Cubesat constellation for monitoring and detection of bushfires in Australia, proposed detecting and monitoring bushfires using a constellation of CubeSats – small satellites slightly larger than a shoe box.

    26 September 2016

    USC students win international law competition

    It was a fictitious legal battle billed as David versus Goliath – an instant noodle entrepreneur trying to negotiate a favourable commercial deal with a global food distributor known for aggressive tactics and big resources.

    And the battle was won by two aspiring lawyers from the University of the Sunshine Coast – David Knobel and Callum Lee, who represented the fictitious entrepreneur in the final scenario of an international law competition held this month in New Delhi, India.

    The third-year USC Law students said their “shock upset” in the final of the National Law University Delhi – Herbert Smith Freehills event delivered USC the trophy for International Negotiation Champions.

    Tuesday, 15 March 2016

    A team of MBA students from The University of Western Australia has beaten teams from around the world to win an international competition focusing on sustainability in the resources sector.

    Feb 18 2016

    Law students from University of NSW have taken out the world’s top mediation competition, signalling to the international legal community the strength of Australian legal training and skill in mediation and dispute resolution.

    Mon, 23/02/2015

    University of Queensland students tested their architectural skills against peers around the world to win an international design competition, for the second year running.

    Hayley Kastelein and Quoc Anh Ho, from UQ’s School of Architecture, secured first and second place in the Generation Kingspan competition, known as GenK, in which they were challenged to design a multi-use complex with commercial, residential, and community/recreation space in Calgary, Canada.

    I could go on…and on…and on…..

    We can teach our kids to be creative or we can get them to repeat the answers to things we already know.

  29. Jexpat

    I didn’t actually expect OJ to reply in good faith in ‘defence’ of his trolling remark, though it would have been interesting to see his definfition of ” left pc authoritarianism most prevalent in universities.”

    It’s reasonable to surmise he’s had a poor experience in university, which led in turn to the spurious association.

  30. OrchidJar

    Kaye, it’s a shame that you seem to believe that the academic standards of the overwhelming majority of students are somehow offset by the outstanding merits of a small percentage of students.

    It’s a greater shame that as an educator you view this an “either – or” proposition.

    Perhaps the reasons for “post truth” are not that difficult to fathom after all.

  31. Kaye Lee

    Not at all OJ. But I think the suggestions being offered by our bureaucrats are very much the wrong way to go (phonics, direct instruction, rote learning, standardised testing, linking teacher’s wages to student performance). We should aim for individualised programs with timely feedback placing the emphasis on improvement – aim for personal bests rather than beating the other guy.

    I point to our excellence because no-one ever does.

  32. Matters Not

    suggestions being offered by our bureaucrats are very much the wrong way to go

    Don’t think you’ll find too many ‘bureaucrats’ with an education background who go down that track, because it’s simplistic nonsense. This morning on the ABC, the ‘expert’ was Jennifer Buckingham who parroted the same solutions she has been peddling for as long as I can remember. Don’t know why the ABC can’t tape it so she’s not bothered in three years time and have to repeat same word for word. It’s all about teacher quality for Jennifer as though SES location has no explanatory power at all. Just give the teachers another bash – so as to raise their morale.

    Birmingham went down her track with one important proviso. He limited his explanation to ‘in school experience’. I thought he was doing okay until he floated the idea of importing maths and science teachers to boost performance. He was poorly briefed I assume.

    Australia can’t and shouldn’t try to compete with ‘city states’ like Shanghai. Singapore, Hong Kong and the like. Read a report this morning that pointed out that student to teacher contact was in the order of 57 hours per week (Shanghai I think). Do we really want our kids in that pressure cooker?

    If you look at the results out of Canberra the students achieve so much better that the Australian average. Confine your view to the Northern Territory – so much worse.

    If we were serious, we would look at the school by school result (they have the data but won’t release it) and then allocate funding on a needs basis. Won’t happen because in Australia we assist parents with funding – and bugger the students.

  33. jimhaz

    Perhaps Harquebus will be right with his pessimism, not initially due to global warming, but due to this post truth business (or should we just say a newfound lack of respect for logical reasoning and fact checking).

    The feeling I get is that every person Trump has hired would appear to be a post-truth person. Not surprising as he is of the same mold.

    @ ozfenric

    Although a significant degree of post-truth would have always been a part of the Fourth Estate, I’d say the tobacco companies ramped it up considerably as they showed that companies could get away with utter deception for so long by lying, lobbying and corrupting the media, and now it has spread from companies to every vested interest group. The tobacco companies needed to be destroyed using law so to set a positive example and it never happened.

    The nature of the internet itself is making matters much worse. Many people just do not know who to believe when there are so many competing viewpoints – so they let go of what should be a need to know what is right.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Disinformation has become an industry itself.

  35. maxpowerof1

    And censorship,
    where those with a misplaced sense of authority disseminate only the information they want you to know.

  36. Exoplanet

    I cannot understand why my posts to this thread last night were refused, or why I’m being ‘moderated’ in the first place. The posts were concise, on-topic and not the least bit contentious. What gives?

  37. Michael Taylor

    No idea what happened to them as I can’t see them anywhere. As far as being moderated, most comments now go into moderation. This was introduced a couple of days ago.

  38. Exoplanet

    Fair enough, Michael. Do posts placed in moderation eventually disappear after a certain amount of time if no moderator acts on them? Actually, no need to respond to that. In my posts I was basically just agreeing with the author’s point about education levels and voting habits but I also said that I’m not sure ‘post-truth’ is a real thing. People who do not care for facts, but rather emotions, sentiment and various other things have always been around, it’s just that they are now better able to disseminate disinformation.

    If you want to see endless amounts of whacko religious ‘Planet Nibiru is here, NASA says so” stuff, just visit Youtube. Terrifyingly, crazy-arse nonsense like Infowars is almost becoming mainstream with the advent of the toobs.

  39. Michael Taylor

    No, Exoplanet, they will sit there until a moderator reviews them. Someone from a specialist team now helps with the moderation and they are very particular. They will generally delete a comment if they have any concerns about its source, eg location or server being used. It’s all over my head.

  40. Exoplanet

    Mine too. Seems I best limit myself to positing during the day where the specialist’s teams concerns don’t seem to matter quite so much. Oh, and on the author’s topic of post-truth, we seem to be regarding Trump as something of a post-truth figure, and perhaps reasonably so, but the echoes of 2016 in this 1964 Democrat video are as spooky as hell:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiG0AE8zdTU&t=19s

    It’s about Goldwater, btw.

  41. Kaye Lee

    I must fess up. I did remove some of max’s comments because they were purely designed to start (or continue) an argument. They contained nothing of substance, just personal attacks, so the accusation of censorship is not accurate.

    Exoplanet, I did not remove or moderate any of your comments so unsure what happened there. I have had a few probs posting myself. I hasten to add, I am not the site moderator.

  42. OrchidJar

    – Kaye,
    Really?
    I must have misunderstood the logic and tone of your lead-in:
    “While everyone moans about Naplan and PISA etc…

    and your closer:
    “I could go on…and on…and on…..
    We can teach our kids to be creative or we can get them to repeat the answers to things we already know.”

    They suggested something quite different to what you’re saying now.
    Perhaps you could edit the “moans” and the “or” so as to remove the wiggle room?

    – corvus, continuing the metaphor, Thoreau comes to mind,
    ‘In the long run, you only hit what you aim at’.
    🙂

    – Jexpat, the very fact that you believe i should answer any post or question from you in ‘good faith’ demonstrates not only your glaring hypocrisy but also how little appreciation you have of my considerable disdain for you.
    ‘in good faith’?
    Too funny

    Also, narking, slurring, niggling, spitting, from the edges are the actions of the intellectually befuddled and the morally stunted.
    If you have an issue, a direct claim to make, regarding my debate with the author of the “Bully” thread, or any other thread for that matter, then make it.

    Make it. If you can.

    Or are you just going to continue tossing pebbles from behind the fence,
    and prove wrong AIMN’s oft repeated dictum ‘argue the topic’?

    – Exoplanet, if you have the time or the inclination, rewrite your post.
    I’d like to read it.
    A quick thought: perhaps the difference between Trump and the other political figures who, without doubt, have angaged in “post truth”, is that for the first time we are seeing someone open and unapologetic about it. There’s this crazy, “oh what the hell” attitude toward not just the outlandish comments themselves , but also to his reaction when confronted with them. His Carrier statements come immediately to mind.

  43. Exoplanet

    OrchidJar,

    Did you watch my posted link of the 1964 Democrat campaign video? Yes, the guy was an actor, but actually a Republican. Goldwater was eerily similar to Trump in many ways, even then.

    Rachel Maddow interviewed the guy this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LenXJHccBSw

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