Truth Decay and the Media
The shrinking role of facts and evidence-based analysis in American public life poses a threat to democracy, to policymaking, and to the very notion of civic discourse. RAND has launched an ambitious research project, Truth Decay, to define and study the problem with the ultimate goal of working toward innovative solutions.
In this Events @ RAND podcast, a panel of experts discusses the connection between the media and Truth Decay. They address the effects of changes in the information environment, including the rise of social media, the shift to a 24-hour news cycle, increasing partisanship of some news sources, algorithms and filters, and media literacy.
Political Scientist, RAND Corporation; Associate Director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in the RAND Arroyo Center
Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University; Co-Director, NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks
Executive Director, First Draft; Research Fellow, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Laura Hazard Owen
Deputy Editor, Neiman Journalism Lab, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University
RAND is studying “Truth Decay”—the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in American public life. Truth Decay presents a threat to both evidence-based policymaking and democracy. RAND invites fellow researchers and engaged stakeholders to join our efforts to find solutions.
“Truth Decay” is the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in American public life. It has many damaging consequences: the erosion of civil discourse, political paralysis, alienation and disengagement from political and civic institutions, and uncertainty over U.S. policy.
“Truth Decay”—the shrinking role of facts and analysis in American public life—threatens democracy, policymaking, and civic discourse. RAND is studying this phenomenon to help understand what drives it and how to address it.
Without agreement about objective facts and a common understanding of and respect for data and analytical interpretations of those data, it becomes nearly impossible to have the types of meaningful policy debates that form the foundation of democracy.
Americans have always held differing views about policy issues. But more and more, they disagree about basic facts. This is a symptom of what RAND calls “Truth Decay,” and it's doing severe damage to democracy in the United States.
In this Call with the Experts, RAND president and CEO Michael Rich and political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh discuss the causes and consequences of Truth Decay, and how they compare with previous eras in U.S. history.