Oxford has defined it as---> ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief'. Now to me, this sounds very absurd, since normative questions were always answered on the basis of personal beliefs and emotions, and facts generally only related to descriptive questions. So what is going on?

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    Yes, we have; it is the same as "alternative facts". Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 8:53
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    We are progressing... On the same line as an old man is a "different young" and a lie is an "alternative fact", we may say that falsity is post-truth. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 8:59
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Well that's quite eloquent but is there sufficient evidence that it is occurring? Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 9:09
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    while the question may not be the best fit for the site i def. think it should stay open. an important quetsion imho!
    – user6917
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:31
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    @MATHEMETICIAN There might be a good question here but I do not quite follow it as currently phrased. The definition talks about "objective facts", but the objection is that "normative questions were always answered on the basis of personal beliefs"? Apparently, the "post-truth" refers to the new situation where even "descriptive questions" are so answered, perhaps by erasing the descriptive/normative (a.k.a fact/value) distinction altogether. Indeed this is the favored move of post-modernists and the "post-truth" seems like the post-modernism filtered down from ivory towers to market squares.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 0:06

2 Answers 2


The advent of Post-truth has a high correlation with the recent rise in right-wing populism, so here is some writing on right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) research that casts a light on why followers don't do such a great job reasoning or relating to the truth.

Free PDF: The Authoritarians (2006) by Prof. R. Altemeyer

e.g. Chapter 3: How Authoritarian Followers Think (page 75)

  1. Illogical Thinking

Sitting in the jury room of the Port Angeles, Washington court house in 1989, Mary Wegmann might have felt she had suddenly been transferred to a parallel universe in some Twilight Zone story. For certain fellow-jury members seemed to have attended a different trial than the one she had just witnessed. They could not remember some pieces of evidence, they invented evidence that did not exist, and they steadily made erroneous inferences from the material that everyone could agree on. Encountering my research as she was later developing her Ph.D. dissertation project, she suspected the people who “got it wrong” had been mainly high RWAs. So she recruited a sample of adults from the Clallam County jury list, and a group of students from Peninsula College and gave them various memory and inference tests. For example, they listened to a tape of two lawyers debating a school segregation case on a McNeil/Lehrer News Hour program. Wegmann found High RWAs indeed had more trouble remembering details of the material they’d encountered, and they made more incorrect inferences on a reasoning test than others usually did. Overall, the authoritarians had lots of trouble simply thinking straight.

  • @user2277550 As it says on page 9: "I call these followers right-wing authoritarians. I’m using the word “right” in one of its earliest meanings, for in Old English “riht” (pronounced “writ”) as an adjective meant lawful, proper, correct, doing what the authorities said. ... In North America people who submit to the established authorities to extraordinary degrees often turn out to be political conservatives, so you can call them “right-wingers” both in my new-fangled psychological sense and in the usual political sense as well." Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:43
  • Wikipedia link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_authoritarianism Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 13:00

Oxford has defined it as---> ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief'. Now to me, this sounds very absurd, since normative questions were always answered on the basis of personal beliefs and emotions, and facts generally only related to descriptive questions. So what is going on?

Many people decide some their ideas for reasons of personal belief or emotion. Different people decide different issues in this way. It isn't necessary to decide moral or policy questions by personal belief or emotion. And any given person has at least some moral or policy questions that he decides by critical discussion.

For a long time, people on the left have been accustomed to imagining that all their ideas come about as a result of rational discussion, that their ideas are obvious and anyone who disagrees is therefore evil. As such, some lefties hounded anyone who disagreed with them and tried to destroy their lives and had some success with doing this, e.g. - biologists Tim Hunt


and James Watson


For a while, people on the right tried to deal with this by acting as if they were dealing with somebody interested in rational argument and contrition for wrongdoing. The righty would argue when he thought he was right and concede when he thought or felt he had made a mistake. He would imagine that this would stop the attack, but it wouldn't and he'd be thrown under the bus no matter what he did. Then some of the righties realised that many of their attackers had no interest in rational argument and contrition, and started to adjust their conduct accordingly. If somebody is going to wreck your life even if you argue or apologise, why bother? Why not just have fun or try to score political points at the expense of your attackers? This has started to catch on more widely on the right and the result is less grovelling by people who say things the left dislikes. For an explanation of this change see "SJWs always lie" by Vox Day. Whether or not you agree with the moral positions held by the author, it explains why right wing people stopped grovelling to left wing attackers.

Some people on the left have interpreted this sudden cessation of grovelling as a brazen disregard for the Holy Truth of which they are the guardians. As a result, some lefties have started to regard everyone who openly disagrees with them and won't back down as 'post truth'.

Most people have a lot of bad ideas whether they are left wing or right wing. There is no shortage of irrationality on either side. It would be better if each side could try to understand the other side's position and have a discussion. This is not currently happening and a lot of the responsibility for this state of affairs should be assigned to the left.

  • see IMO there's no left and right, there's only really principled people, realists, and the morally insane.
    – user6917
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 16:13
  • You have forwarded absolutely no evidence for this, and it comes across as just a stream of abuse against left wing thinkers. This is completely inappropriate for a Q&A site about philosophy.
    – user22791
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 7:39
  • This post could use some references and sources. Also, it is not clear to me how it answers the question, exactly. Could you elaborate?
    – user2953
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 7:44
  • The question was 'what is going on?', i.e. - where did this fake news idea come from? I maintain it comes from left wing people wanting deference to their worldview, not getting it, and deeming commentary or emphasis they disagree with to be fake news. Incidents of left wing people attacking those who disagree with them and wrecking their careers are common. A list of some public figures who received this treatment includes James Watson, Tim Hunt, see the articles referred to in the answer. I provided a reference for how right wing people view the issue.
    – alanf
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 8:37
  • As for the idea that it is inappropriate to criticise left wing people, you don't seem to have the same problem with abusing right people by deeming them authoritarian.
    – alanf
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 8:40

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