Truth Decay and Community Engagement

In a recent op-ed published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, RAND President and CEO Michael D. Rich and political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh wrote about what they refer to as the Truth Decay Paradox. “Increasingly, detailed data and complex analysis are the foundation of decision-making in baseball and many other professions and occupations. One notable exception is political and civil discourse in modern life, and the public policymaking that accompanies it.”

Their research on Truth Decay showed that some of the greatest public policy failures in U.S. history occurred when insufficient attention was paid to available facts and data. Equally important, they found Truth Decay contributes to a growing disengagement of citizens from their government and the political process.

In this Events @ RAND podcast, RAND political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh and William “Pat” Getty, president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, discuss Truth Decay’s consequences on community engagement and resilience.

William “Pat” Getty

William P. Getty

President and Trustee, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation

jennifer kavanagh

Jennifer Kavanagh

Political Scientist, RAND Corporation; Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Learn More

  • Truth Decay, America's Latest Pastime

    Detailed data and complex analysis are the foundation of decisionmaking in baseball and many other professions and occupations. But facts are out of favor in current U.S. political and civil discourse, and the public policymaking that accompanies it.

  • Truth Decay: Fighting for Facts and Analysis

    Jan 16, 2018

    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.

  • Declining Trust in Facts and Institutions Imposes Costs on Society

    “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 and the Media

    May 8, 2018

    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.

  • How Truth Decay Happens

    May 16, 2018

    “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.