Opposing the power of lies, bullshit and fake news: the value of truth

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‘Post-truth’ politics poses a serious challenge to the values of truth, and consequently trust. Sections of mainstream political parties and the media do not appear to have basic knowledge or insight into processes that underpin our institutions, and we are confronted with the proliferation of lies, fake news and bullshit—and profound ignorance. We will explore the distinctions between truth and truthfulness, and lies and deceit to centrally argue that truth has considerable intrinsic and instrumental value that should be protected and respected. Truth is invaluable to the integrity of the person, institution and nation, and a climate of trust to the proper functioning of democracy. While it may be expedient to distort or ignore the truth, we value truth in ways that cannot be reduced to its practical value. This is because it is very closely related to trust, sincerity and integrity. Indifference to truth, and the cynical espousing of lies, fake news or bullshit can be destabilising and harmful, as Brexit (the United Kingdom’s process of withdrawal from the European Union) is painfully revealing. Deception constitutes a limit to our will: how can we make informed choices if the information we receive is inaccurate, false or untrue? As our information ecosystem becomes increasingly complex, unpre- dictable and balkanised, educators have a vital role in helping an informed public navigate what it encounters online.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalPostdigital Science and Education
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Truth
  • Lies
  • Bullshit
  • Fake news
  • Brexit


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