RAND is studying “Truth Decay”—the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. As a nonpartisan institution that seeks to advance the public good through research and analysis, RAND is concerned about the threat Truth Decay poses to evidence-based policymaking. We invite fellow researchers and engaged stakeholders to join our efforts to find solutions.
Defining "Truth Decay"
RAND defines Truth Decay as the diminishing role of facts and data in American public life. There are four trends that characterize Truth Decay:
- increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data
- a blurring of the line between opinion and fact
- the increasing relative volume and resulting influence of opinion and personal experience over fact
- declining trust in formerly respected sources of facts.
Most of these trends are not unprecedented in American history. But today's level of disagreement over objective facts is a new phenomenon. So how did we get here?
RAND research has investigated what's causing and compounding this problem. The main drivers of Truth Decay include
- cognitive biases
- the rise of social media and other changes to the information environment
- demands on the educational system that limit its ability to keep up with changes in the information ecosystem
- political and social polarization.
RAND's research agenda addresses these issues and much more. But research and analysis alone cannot solve the complex problem of Truth Decay. Policymakers, media companies, and individuals must also act on the basis of this research.