Research and Commentary on Truth Decay

  • Books and a laptop in a library, photo by Nutthaseth Vanchaichana/Getty Images

    Report

    Media Literacy Standards to Counter Truth Decay

    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?

  • A teenage girl looks through a fenced barrier in front of the White House, photo by EyeJoy/Getty Images

    Report

    Preparing Children for Civic Life in the Era of Truth Decay

    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.

  • A second grade student votes during a mock election at his school in Gainesville Florida, Nov. 3, 2020, photo by Brad McClenny/Reuters

    Article

    Want to Rebuild Public Trust? Focus on Civic Education

    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.

  • A voter completes his ballot on the day of the primary election in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 23, 2020, photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    Report

    Voting in a Pandemic: What Americans Think About Safety, Election Integrity, and Preparedness

    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?

  • A line chart indicating a decline, with a government building in the background, images by Naypong Studio/Adobe Stock; design by Pete Soriano

    Report

    The Drivers of Institutional Trust and Distrust

    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?

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the U.S. economy as Vice President–elect Kamala Harris stands by in Wilmington, Delaware, November 16, 2020, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Putting America's Civic Infrastructure on the Biden-Harris Agenda

    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.

  • A compass pointing to facts, image by frankpeters/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Think Tanks in the Era of Truth Decay

    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.

  • Map of U.S. showing voting process flexibility by state

    Tool

    Are States Ready for a COVID-19 Election?

    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.

  • A voter casts her ballot on the day of the primary election in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 23, 2020, photo by Bryan Woolston/Reuters

    Report

    An Assessment of State Voting Processes: Preparing for Elections During a 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?

  • Maryland election judge Cassandra Campbell watches a voter place a ballot in a drop box, College Park, Maryland, June 2, 2020, photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    Report

    Options for Ensuring Safe Elections Amid COVID-19

    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.

  • Teacher writing on a blackboard, photo by Andrea Obzerova/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Social Studies Teachers' Trust in Institutions and Groups

    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.

  • High school students with hands raised during lesson in classroom, photo by Chris Ryan/KOTO/AdobeStock

    Report

    How Teachers Use Civics Instructional Materials

    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?

  • Classmates preparing for exams in the library, photo by Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

    Report

    Understanding Media Use and Literacy in Schools

    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?

  • A crowd of people surrounding images representing the news, design by Alyson Youngblood/RAND

    Article

    What Americans Think of the News—and What That Means for Democracy

    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.

  • Man looking at his phone on the subway, photo by Westend61/Getty Images

    Report

    How Americans Consume the News

    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.

  • Two men looking at a phone and wearing face masks, photo by ozgurdonmaz/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How to Contain the Disinformation Virus

    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.

  • A man wearing a face mask looks at his phone at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, March 12, 2020, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Q&A

    Truth Decay in the Coronavirus Moment: Q&A with Jennifer Kavanagh

    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.

  • A woman holding a newspaper and a cell phone, photo by izzetugutmen/Adobe Stock

    Essay

    American News Habits and the Challenge of Truth Decay

    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.

  • Panelists discuss how media organizations can help address "Truth Decay," the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life, at the RAND Corporation office in Santa Monica, CA, February 25, 2020, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    Blog

    How the Media Can Help Fight 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?

  • Woman using smartphone

    Tool

    What's Being Done to Fight Disinformation Online

    With the rise of the internet and social media, false or intentionally misleading information can spread further and faster than ever before. What tools exist to fight disinformation online?

  • Vial and syringe providing immunization from Truth Decay

    Article

    How to Increase Immunity to Truth Decay

    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.

  • Woman holding a laptop and looking at various news and media images, photo by metamorworks/Getty Images

    Report

    Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating 'Truth Decay'

    Can media literacy education help counter the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life? To find out, RAND experts analyzed what we know—and don't know—about the subject.

  • The words Truth Decay over a fading American flag painted on wood

    Report

    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.

  • Person scrolling through the news on a smartphone, photo by Adobe Stock/terovesalaine

    Report

    News in a Digital Age: Comparing the Presentation of Information over Time and Across Platforms

    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.

  • Newspapers and social media terms in LED display, photos by artisteer/Getty Images and phive2015/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Facts vs. Opinions: How the News Is Changing in the Digital Age

    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?

  • A row of people on their mobile phones

    Research Brief

    Truth Decay: A Threat to Policymaking and Democracy

    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.

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