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Bent Flyvbjerg

By Bent Flyvbjerg

Eight rules for post-truth politics

The Oxford English Dictionary named ‘post-truth’ its 2016 word of the year. Here are eight rules for post-truth politics, based on my research on power and truth:

  1. Truth is context dependent.
  2. The context of truth is power.
  3. Power blurs the dividing line between truth and lies.
  4. Lies and spin presented as truth is a principal strategy of those in power.
  5. The greater the power, the less the truth.
  6. Power has deeper historical roots than truth, which weakens truth.
  7. Today, no power can avoid the issue of ‘speaking the truth’, unless it imposes silence and servitude. Herein lies the power of truth.
  8. Truth will not be silenced.

For more information, here’s a detailed ethnography of how post-truth politics works in practice: Bent Flyvbjerg (Author), Steven Sampson (Translator) (1998) Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice (Morality and Society Series) (University of Chicago Press).

And here is how to counter post-truth politics: Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sandford Schram (ed) (2012) Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis (Cambridge University Press)

First published on January 4, 2016, LinkedIn.

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