Fake news, echo chambers, conspiracies, propaganda, information pollution--what are these and other features of the post truth era and how can we successfully navigate them?
Is truth dead? Time Magazine posed this question in bold red print on its April 3, 2017 cover. It’s a surprising concern, given that information of every sort imaginable is merely a click away on our phones, access to educational resources is robust for both traditional students and online learners, and direct interaction with public figures is more unencumbered than ever before with the help of social networks. Yet we nevertheless find that “alternative” facts regularly compete on equal footing with actual facts, fake news beats out mainstream news, and expert knowledge is sidelined for gut hunches and whatever feels correct. Such is the so-called post-truth age. Can our democracy survive it? Contrary to what many of you may think, it’s not obvious that it can. Perhaps even more surprising, if it can survive, it may only be by way of the much-maligned practice of politics. In this course, you’ll interrogate the post-truth age, primarily within the American context, through an interdisciplinary engagement with epistemology, political philosophy, media studies, and the behavioral and social sciences.