The Reason Why Americans Have Diminishing Trust in Facts

And if you think it has to do with your smartphone, you’re not far off.

Courtesy of  +Simple/Unsplash

While most Americans now consume information by turning on cable news or taking a look at their social media accounts; absorbing facts in this way has led to 'Truth Decay,' according to a RAND Corporation report.

What exactly is ‘Truth Decay?’ This phenomena is defined as “a blurring between opinion and fact, an increase in the relative volume of opinion and personal experience over fact, and declining trust in formerly respected sources of factual information,” according to RAND. It’s an issue that’s “exacerbated by changes in the ways Americans consume information.”

RAND says that ‘Truth Decay’ has appeared throughout history, citing “the 1880s-1890s (rapid industrialization and economic inequality), 1920s-1930s (mistrust of banks and financial institutions) and 1960s-1970s (social upheaval, Vietnam War).” What served to restore faith in the facts was “improved government transparency backed by changes in policy and a resurgence of responsible, investigative journalism,” RAND reports.

The president and CEO of RAND Corporation and co-author of the report, Michael D. Rich said, “Although we see some evidence that previous eras also experienced a decline in trust in institutions, this trend seems to be more pronounced now than in the past. Today we see that lack of trust across many more pillars of society - in government, media and financial institutions - and a far lower absolute level of trust in these institutions than before."

As RAND reports, a lack of trust has led to “political paralysis and collapse of civil discourse,” Rich said, it’s imperative for “individuals and organizations to join with us in promoting the need for facts, data and analysis in civic and political discourse - and in American public life.”

To learn more about ‘Truth Decay’ click here

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