- Nazism and Soviet Communism were both "predicated on the violation and despoiling of truth."
- Today, "disregard for facts, the displacement of reason by emotion, and the corrosion of language are diminishing the value of truth."
- Many interests have been undermining truth for a long time. Right-wing think tanks and corporate interests have invested heavily in denying truth, as have creationists, white supremacists, and other ideologues.
- The post-modernist movement in academia "both encouraged a more egalitarian discourse and made it possible for the voices of the previously disfranchised to be heard. But it has also been exploited by those who want to make the case for offensive or debunked theories, or who want to equate things that cannot be equated."
- Reportorial conventions of "balance" have media presenting debates between real experts and cranks, rather than simply telling us what is true. "False equivalence was the result of journalists confusing balance with truth-telling, wilful neutrality with accuracy; caving in to pressure from rightwing interest groups to present “both sides”; and the format of television news shows that feature debates between opposing viewpoints – even when one side represents an overwhelming consensus and the other is an almost complete outlier in the scientific community.
- The Internet and social media funnel people into epistemological silos. (My own awkward metaphor, not hers.)
And then, to conclude:Donald Trump, the 45th president of the US, lies so prolifically and with such velocity that the Washington Post calculated he’d made 2,140 false or misleading claims during his first year in office – an average of 5.9 a day. . . . . If a novelist had concocted a villain like Trump – a larger-than-life, over-the-top avatar of narcissism, mendacity, ignorance, prejudice, boorishness, demagoguery and tyrannical impulses (not to mention someone who consumes as many as a dozen Diet Cokes a day) – she or he would likely be accused of extreme contrivance and implausibility. In fact, the president of the US often seems less like a persuasive character than some manic cartoon artist’s mashup of Ubu Roi, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and a character discarded by Molière. But the more clownish aspects of Trump the personality should not blind us to the monumentally serious consequences of his assault on truth and the rule of law, and the vulnerabilities he has exposed in our institutions and digital communications.
Trump’s ridiculousness, his narcissistic ability to make everything about himself, the outrageousness of his lies, and the profundity of his ignorance can easily distract attention from the more lasting implications of his story: how easily Republicans in Congress enabled him, undermining the whole concept of checks and balances set in place by the founders; how a third of the country passively accepted his assaults on the constitution; how easily Russian disinformation took root in a culture where the teaching of history and civics had seriously atrophied.Indeed. At some point the edifice of lies will have to collapse, the scales will fall from people's eyes, and we'll have a rebirth of common interest and democratic accountability. Or we will suffer a catastrophe beyond World War II.