Media literacy may be a powerful tool against Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts in public life. What standards could help teachers, policymakers, and others implement media literacy education more effectively?
To restore the role of facts in public life, it's important for America's youth to develop strong civic skills. Students can build these skills in the classroom, but teachers need better resources and more support to help them do it.
Truth Decay—the diminishing role of facts in American public life—has led to political paralysis, the erosion of civil discourse, and widespread uncertainty. Investing in civic education could help turn the tide.
As states prepare to conduct elections during the COVID-19 crisis, what are voters' perceptions about safety, election integrity, and the readiness of local officials? And how might these perceptions affect voter turnout in November?
Trust in the government, news media, and other institutions has declined in the past two decades. What factors might explain this decline? And what else do we need to learn in order to begin rebuilding public trust?
Much like our bridges and roads, America's civic infrastructure has been allowed to crumble. This has allowed Truth Decay to set in. The new administration can begin to repair the deep fissures in our society by explicitly and implicitly rehabilitating the nation's civic infrastructure.
Truth Decay is the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life, and it cuts much deeper than any political party or demographic. It's why nonpartisan think tanks like RAND are as important now as they have ever been.
Is there automatic voter registration? Can citizens vote by mail without an excuse? Are there options to cast ballots early? Answering questions such as these can help determine how prepared states are to conduct elections safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To conduct elections safely this fall, states need registration and voting options that can happen remotely or can enable social distancing. Based on their policies, which states are most and least prepared to do this?
The pandemic poses a serious threat to state election plans in 2020. There is still time for states to make policy changes, but those changes come with potential risks to public safety, and to election integrity, access, and logistics.
U.S. social studies teachers do not have a great deal of trust in many public institutions, such as news outlets and the government. This might have implications for how much they draw on or reference such institutions in their instruction.
Teachers' instructional materials provide a window into civic education in schools. Where are public-school social studies teachers getting most of their instructional materials? And how are they using these materials to teach civics?
Schools can play a key role in fighting Truth Decay—the diminishing role of facts in U.S. public life—by teaching media literacy to students. How much emphasis do teachers and schools put on this subject?
RAND researchers asked a nationally representative sample of adults about their news-consumption habits. The answers reveal clues about what it might take to address Truth Decay—the decline of facts in U.S. public life.
Where do Americans get their news? What news sources do they view as reliable? And how are choices about news consumption linked to demographics or political affiliation? Results from a national survey provide insights into these questions and more.
Like COVID-19, disinformation spreads only if we help it spread. While we have all been asked to stay at home as responsible citizens to contain the virus, we should also feel responsible for making it harder for disinformation to spread.
Jennifer Kavanagh, who wrote the RAND book Truth Decay about the diminishing role that facts play in making important public policy decisions, calls the unfolding situation with the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 a worst-case scenario.
RAND researchers asked people where they get their news, how reliable they think it is, and whether they seek out viewpoints that are different from their own. The results provide some new clues to help diagnose and treat Truth Decay.
"Truth Decay" is the diminishing role of facts and analysis in U.S. public life. As part of this phenomenon, Americans are losing faith in once-trusted sources of information, including the news. What could media organizations do to address this?
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.
“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.
In what ways has news reporting in print, on television, and online changed over the last 30 years? Overall, there has been a shift toward more-subjective reporting, but many of the changes have been subtle.
Technology has transformed how people get information. But it has also affected the way that information is produced, shared, and disseminated. How much has the presentation of news actually changed over the last three decades?
The line between fact and fiction in American public life is blurring. This “Truth Decay” phenomenon affects democracy and political and civil discourse, driving wedges between policymakers and neighbors alike. But research and analysis can serve as a launching point to rein Truth Decay in.
Want to learn more about how RAND is responding to Truth Decay? Are you a researcher interested in tackling this issue? We want to hear from you.
Funding for This Project
The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest.
Philanthropic contributions support our ability to take the long view, tackle tough and often-controversial topics, and share our findings in innovative and compelling ways.
RAND's research findings and recommendations are based on data and evidence and therefore do not necessarily reflect the policy preferences or interests of its clients, donors, or supporters.
Funding for this research initiative was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations.