Post-truth and posting lies

‘Post-truth’ is contradicted on blogs which which often seem to post distortions and lies.

This is sometimes as the agents of political parties, or as volunteer lie posters who think they are helping a cause.

This can  be through deliberate attempts to mislead, but sometimes may be through ignorance, and some could be through an inability to interpret without prejudice.

Post-truth politics has been mentioned recently in the UK with the Brexit campaign and also in the current US presidential campaign where blatant lying has reached new lows.


RNZ Toby


Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance.

It has also come up in in a New Zealand context over the last few months.

  • Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: A post-truth era in politics
    The campaigns of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers have been a triumph of emotional populism over cold, hard facts. In this distorted reality there are imaginary MSD squads flying in to help the homeless, and new emergency beds that already existed.
  • RNZ: Is a ‘post-truth’ era upon us?
    The government has shrugged off events and evidence contradicting claims made by ministers recently, frustrating many journalists. Are we really in a “post-truth” period where the facts don’t matter any more? If so, do the media share the blame?
  • RNZ: Toby & Toby on… post-truth politics
    The condition has also been observed in lands as distant as the Pacific paradise of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Stuff: Are NZ politicians joining the international tide of post-truth politics?
    But are we any different down here on the edge of the world? Is the New Zealand body politic keeping itself trim on a stern diet of facts and evidence, or are we, too, choosing the sugar-rush of anecdata, the greasy mouthfeel of a racist porky, the finger-licking goodness of unsupported rumour?

Is it getting worse in New Zealand? Politicians have probably lied since politicians. The Stuff article looks back:

As long as there’s been politics there have been lies. In Ancient Greece the Athenians talked about “demagogues” – rabble-rousers who appealed to emotion and prejudice rather than fact and reason.

In his deranged autobiography Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler spoke of the propaganda value of the “big lie”: saying blatantly untrue things so loudly and often that the populace can’t believe you’d have dared make it up.

In the past decade though commentators have been picking a new trend – not so much that lies are being told, but that the old counterbalances, research, empirical evidence – were losing their corrective power.

The immediacy of Internet reporting plus it’s reach and lack of checks and balances and commenting has contributed to lie spreading.

Jonathan Swift (1710): “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

Thomas Francklin (1787): “Falsehood will fly, as it were, on the wings of the wind, and carry its tales to every corner of the earth; whilst truth lags behind; her steps, though sure, are slow and solemn, and she has neither vigour nor activity enough to pursue and overtake her enemy…”

‘A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’ and variants were used through the 1800s, and since.

Lying in New Zealand politics is more than suspected, with Winston Peters’ ‘NO’ sign from 2008 still being mocked. Surprisingly this isn’t mentioned on his Wikipedia page but the Parliamentary censure is: The Privileges Committee returned a report on 22 September recommending that Peters be censured for “knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests.

Posting lies on political blogs is a common accusation. A high profile case between Colin Craig and Cameron Slater is due in court next year to test claims of lies.

Whale Oil is well known for making claims that will never be substantiated, like:

And so it begins…

By Cameron Slater

Make no mistake, this is a deliberate undermining of Andrew Little by Twyford.

Post-truth in relation to blogging came to mind over the last few days with a string of questionable posts at The Standard.

Racist Nats Attack Chinese Grannies Shock!

Written By:

National have slammed the door shut on the parents of already settled migrants who wish to move to NZ to complete the family unit. Minister Michael Woodhouse accuses elderly Asians of bludging off the NZ taxpayer. You won’t believe the howls of outrage from the right!

The crime spike

Written By:

Who would have thought that a surge in homelessness would result in a spike in crime, and that a dramatic increase in the number of people with no or compromised housing situations would cause an increase in burglaries, robberies and assaults.

I see a poverty of ideas and a poverty of Government responsibility

Written By:

Judith Collins yesterday said that child poverty is the fault of parents and not the fault of her Government.

Housing Corp is running out of money


It seems that the strip mining of Housing Corporation so that the Government could declare a surplus is reaching its logical conclusion.  Treasury is forecasting Housing Corp to be out of money by next February.

There is no surplus

Written By:

In Year Eight of this National government, the idea of a budget surplus is a joke. They’ve promised it for nearly a decade. They’ve fiddled the books. The truth is, there is no surplus.

The truth is that Rodgers is is wrong, either deliberately or out of ignorance. And most of the comments on her post continue the misconceptions and misinformation.

It’s difficult to know when the lies are deliberate, and when they are repeated so often amongst their political peers they come to believe they are true.

Regardless, there may never have been an era of truth in politics but in the Internet age the perpetuation of lies has become far more obvious.

New Zealand surely can’t slide to the lying lows of the US presidential campaign but the signs of untruthfulness look ominous for the political future.

Is there any chance that democracy can avoid self destruction?

Leave a comment


  1. “Is there any chance that democracy can avoid self destruction?”

    What is democracy? A majority agreeing to commit a crime is a conspiracy, not a democracy.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th October 2016

    It is a human solution to the problems of life – find some lies that make you happy and stick with them. As per religion.

    A bit late to worry if it is terminal now.

  3. Kevin

     /  17th October 2016

    It’s the triumph of rhetoric over logic and reason and it’s because people are more persuaded by emotion than facts.

  4. David

     /  17th October 2016

    “Andrea Vance at 1 News: Opinion: A post-truth era in politics
    The campaigns of Donald Trump and the Brexiteers have been a triumph of emotional populism over cold, hard facts”

    The irony is she most likely can’t see the lie she has told with this quote. In the two sides of these arguments, people took the ‘cold, hard facts’ and made different decisions. No small amount of conceit in that.

    • In both cases there was no small amount of emotional populism and misleading information and too little consideration of cold hard facts. Especially in Trump versus Clinton.

  5. duperez

     /  17th October 2016

    “It has also come up in in a New Zealand context over the last few months.”

    Is it what happens daily, and has for far more than the last few months, on less outwardly rabid political blogs here?

    The sort of sites which post regular reviews suggesting how even handed they have been?

  6. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

    “There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy

    “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” – Mark Twain

    Read more at:

    Postmodernism was a great leap forward, leastwise as a theory to explain post-WW2 cultural developments –

    “postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress.[4] Instead, it asserts that knowledge and truth are the product of unique systems of social, historical, and political discourse and interpretation, and are therefore contextual and constructed.”

    Pity that “skepticism or distrust” didn’t extend to the “grand narrative” of neoliberalism!? But this only speaks of the reality of a) postmodern narcissism and b) the human need for some reference to ‘ideology’? The entropy of such ideological identification has been very clear in Western Society, from ‘spiritual’ – [Imperial] Christianity – to ‘mass capitalism’, laissez faire – Mass Production & Mass Exploitation – to ‘social’ – Social Welfare & Communal Security – to ‘Totally Personal: economic & physical satisfaction of wants and desires’ – Neoliberal Consensus, Global Capitalism …

    In its own way post-post modernism or transmodernism or pseudo-modernism is equally useful as a theoretical construct –

    ” Kirby associates pseudo-modernism with the triteness and shallowness resulting from the instantaneous, direct, and superficial participation in culture made possible by the internet, mobile phones, interactive television and similar means: “In pseudo-modernism one phones, clicks, presses, surfs, chooses, moves, downloads.”[23]

    Pseudo-modernism’s “typical intellectual states” are furthermore described as being “ignorance, fanaticism and anxiety” and it is said to produce a “trance-like state” in those participating in it. The net result of this media-induced shallowness and instantaneous participation in trivial events is a “silent autism” superseding “the neurosis of modernism and the narcissism of postmodernism.”

    So I figure post-Truth politics is a good and fundamentally natural thing … The individual will demand more than our current ‘blinkered’ form of democracy can possibly deliver … “majority crime” as Ugly Truth calls it … and hopefully democracy will be able to adapt … ?

  7. I have over my 75 plus years formed the opinion that we as a nation are not served well by a Main Stream Media that should be based on facts, moral;values, the pursuit of truth and logical examination of evidence. Each day through the newspapers, TV and Radio we are served up a soup of personal bias, poorly researched commentaries on matters that have occurred and in too many cases a lightly modified overseas view of political, social, ideological, cultural, religious, economic and defence/security matters. Too often our stories that we have access to, are manufactured by US, UK, Russian and Chinese media sources. Else they reflect the prejudices of the writer. Too often bandwagon appeals are launched via the media about the nature of and needs for improvements to social and welfare problems that are based on ideological, speculative and facile examination of the facts. Our MSM are guilty of becoming a political -ideological force for change to long established values and lack any merit whatsoever. If I were a member of the MSM, I would resign on the basis of no longer being able to meet professional standards. Question, Who owns our media? Not New Zealanders, Australians and Americans and the UK. They do not understand New Zealanders and their culture and values. Time for them to go and be joined by the Aussie Banks that are ripping off our efforts.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  17th October 2016

      To write good stuff takes brains and hard work, BJ. The MSM can’t afford either now they have lost their monopolies. We need a new publishing solution that can fund them. At present we can only get the brains on a part-time basis where they are getting well-paid by their real profession and write as a hobby. The hard work we don’t get at all except as mass entertainment.

    • The MSM merely REFLECTS the society in which it operates. It functions partly to inform, but IMO moreso to sell ‘news’ itself and to sell advertising – both of which are inherently emotive and manipulative activities – and partly as a vehicle of indoctrination. This last has become more and more sophisticated in the postmodern & post-postmodern eras of television, internet and new-tech

      So if the MSM’s moral values decline, it reflects the decline in values in our political-ideological and money driven society.

      There’s nothing new about this. Back in the days when the ‘news-scape’ was a simplistic ‘class war’ between employers and workers, there was the National Party NZ Herald and the Labour Party Auckland Star [more-or-less] …

      One can hardly complain about the MSM not being NZ owned when it has both gone through and reflects the very selling-off process which practically everything else in NZ has undergone in the last 30+ years … and the MSM has been a vehicle of indoctrination about that same process … selling us the ideals of ‘efficiency and productivity’, globalisation, cheap imported garbage products et al at the expense of local production and employment, workers rights, relative pay equity, strong regional economies and all the rest of the Kiwi baby who went out with the slightly soiled “Muldoon Socialism” bathwater …

      Why shouldn’t our “news” be manufactured overseas along with everything else? One thing is certain, a very great deal of it now is ‘manufactured’ to some extent or other … from Police Press Releases, which is about all the Police news we get now, through to the kind of ‘reporting’ and opinion writing Pete is drawing attention to here …. Post-Truth …

      Plain facts, if such a thing even exists in most circumstances, rather than “interpretation”, would probably be so boring it wouldn’t sell the MSM ‘news’ …

      • Let me put this another way … Our moral values plunged towards narcissistic nothingness when we first rode down main-street on a horse named ‘Roger’ and set about shafting our many kinfolk living in our own home-town; except for a chosen few bureaucratic petty-criminals who, posing as self-appointed Sheriffs and Marshalls, became filthy rich Railroad & Telegraph tycoons selling off most of the communally-owned assets belonging to their neighbours and fellow villagers …

        They did all this under the cover of MSM manipulated ‘shadow-play’ … along with the shock of organisational ‘change’, corporate re-structuring and re-branding, professional re-training and the rise of the ‘Deputy Sheriff’ manager … Hence, a stunned, bewildered and increasingly dumbed-down, stressed-out populace was offered their opiate in spectacles like the America’s Cup Challenge with its new heroes, Blake and Butterworth … in binge drinking and all-night partying … in first tobacco then alcohol sponsored, increasingly ‘professional’ sporting events … in owning a jap import car and a lethal attack dog … a high fenced suburban ‘leaky’ home …

        When was the first ‘Steinlager’ Rugby World Cup? … 1987 …. Geeeee!!! …. What a coincidence …… same year as Black Tuesday …

        Where’s the productive industry … Gone! Where’s the value-added industry … Gone! Regional development and provincial employment and much local commerce replaced by the false hope of property speculation … by primary industry and raw material exports and increasingly fake if not overseas owned tourism …

        Low wages propped up by immigration … The whole crap-heap dyke increasingly plugged-up by creeping and incipient welfare payments handed in utmost austerity to the abandoned home-town rabble …

        And thus we have created exactly the Main Stream Media we deserve to report, reflect and manipulate our new surreal ‘society’ … here in Big Red Shed ‘FIIRE Sale’ Land …

        It needs a damn good overhaul and somehow I don’t think its going to come from the re-established Church and the re-instated ‘rod’ …

        • patupaiarehe

           /  17th October 2016

          Touche’ e hoa. Verbose, but accurate, as usual…

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th October 2016

          Productive industries are doing ok, PZ. Companies like Mainfreight, Xero, and Ryman are expanding around the world. Tourism is booming. Building has been booming in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown areas.

          But they would be doing better without the dead hand of bureaucracy putting the brakes on everything but especially physical construction.

          • patupaiarehe

             /  17th October 2016

            What will be very interesting Alan, is seeing how Ryman shares perform, once the ‘baby boomers’ in their villages start dying, and there aren’t the numbers there to replace them. It’s a good investment now, but the tide will turn eventually…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th October 2016

              It’s a well-run company now. All of those companies rely on their brains. There is never any guarantee that the brain power will continue long term to anticipate and solve problems. That is the nature of business.

              PZ wants productivity without the brains, innovation and change necessary to survive and prosper in a competitive, fast-changing world. You can have it, at the cost of becoming an impoverished, isolated backwater. That’s pretty much what his part of the country is.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  17th October 2016

              Careful now Alan, you don’t know what PZ wants, you are merely speculating, based on you own interpretation of what PZ says here.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th October 2016

              I’m just over a lot of words about nothing, patu. I’ve just driven home from Auckland and our board meeting where we wrestle with all the issues of trying to run a successful and growing company. I had dinner on Saturday night with a long time business friend and senior executive of Mainfreight which is one of our clients and with whom we develop services to sell to the biggest companies in the world.

              Too much say stuff and too little do stuff.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  18th October 2016

              Well it’s a political blog Alan, a lot is said here, and little gets done. Lighten up young man 😉

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  18th October 2016

              Nope, I’m going to bed. Cheers.

  8. @ Alan – “Productive industries are doing ok, PZ. Companies like Mainfreight, Xero, and Ryman are expanding …”

    Yeah right, while the shops on mainstreet lie empty, family businesses mostly shut down, the centre desolate … the heart dead … unless you have a ‘Cruise Ship’ plastic tourism culture, where the superficial, sanitised, packaged ‘story’ eventually becomes the un-reality.

    “an impoverished, isolated backwater”, richer in community spirit than you and your kind will ever know or understand … Wealthy beyond any dollar value … Prosperous beyond words.

    But its like talking Swahili to “Dr Livingstone I presume”, the Great White discoverer and ‘knower’ of all things, who comes across a Swahili person who’s lived at Victoria Falls all their life and their descendants since time immemorial, and yet the ‘good’ Doctor says, “We found it. This is our ‘discovery’. I claim this place in the name of His/Her Majesty the King/Queen”


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