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The Pre-History of Post-Truth

In an age of “alternative facts,” many insist that we have entered a new phase of history in which truth no longer matters. But epistemic conflict is as old as democracy; what’s new is the role of special interests and specific policies in degrading public discourse.

PRINCETON – Since the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and the election of US President Donald Trump in 2016, the conventional wisdom has held that we are now in a “post-truth” or “post-factual” age. Yet, while such terms may help to give us a sense of certainty in a politically unpredictable era, they cannot explain it. Worse, the notion of a clear-cut “post-factual age” might itself be factually incorrect.