Hiking in the mountains Yuri Smityuk/Getty Images

Surviving in a Post-Truth World

Despite the falsehoods that some politicians peddle, facts still matter. People have survived because their ancestors got their facts right, like the shorebird that flocks at the hint of danger, rather than the mule deer, which ignores the rustle in the bushes.

LOS ANGELES – Despite the falsehoods that some politicians peddle, facts still matter, and getting those facts right is essential for survival. I know, because I regularly see the deadly consequences of getting facts wrong.

I am a behavioral ecologist, and I study how animals assess and manage predation risk. But, rather than study the flashy predators – with their sharp teeth, stealthy approaches, and impressive sprinting abilities – I focus on their food.

Some wallabies make bad use of facts. Too often, these four-legged snacks ignore information right in front of them – like rustling in the underbrush or the scent of a passing carnivore. And they pay for this ignorance dearly, with the sudden slash of talons, or the constricting squeeze of a powerful jaw.

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