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