Jan 16, 2018
This report looked at the role of facts and analysis in public life in Europe and is part of the RAND Corporation's Countering Truth Decay Initiative. The study found that Truth Decay is occurring in Europe, but it is less prevalent than in the United States, at least for now. This signifies that Truth Decay in Europe is perhaps at a less advanced stage and there are actions that could be taken to try to prevent or slow it.
The uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for accurate information to support sound decisions. However, having access to more information can make it harder for people to decide what to believe or not believe.
This report presents the findings of a study on the evolution of the role of facts and analysis in public life in Europe. The research is part of the Countering Truth Decay Initiative, a portfolio of projects completed by the RAND Corporation to restore the role of facts and analysis in public life. After the first report in the Truth Decay series, Truth Decay — An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life, was published in 2018, exploring the Truth Decay phenomenon in the European context was a logical next step for RAND.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided many stark examples of the trends characteristic to Truth Decay. In Europe, questions have been raised about access to and the quality of information regarding the pandemic, as well as the use of scientific evidence in policy making. There has been polarisation in the private and public sphere and news avoidance and disengagement from public debate. This report, however, goes beyond a recording of the current climate and explores whether the situation is getting worse, i.e. whether the disagreement about facts and data is increasing, whether the volume and resulting influence of opinion (over fact) is growing, and whether trust in formerly respected sources of information is declining.
Truth Decay represented as a system
Trends of Truth Decay in Europe
Drivers of Truth Decay in Europe
Agents of Truth Decay
Consequences of Truth Decay in Europe
Conclusions and next steps
Literature review search strategy