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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > July 2017 > Where the truth lies

Where the truth lies

We’ve always had to fight for facts—especially right now, argues Simon Blackburn

Post Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About It by Evan Davis (Little, Brown, £14.99)

Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew D’Ancona (Ebury Press, £6.99)

Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World by James Ball (Biteback Publishing, £9.99)

Queen of alternative facts: Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway
© EVAN VUCCI/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Here are three distinguished journalists, and three books on the same subject. Each one takes its title from the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016, where “posttruth” was defined as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Each is in part a response to the successes of the mendacious Donald Trump campaign and the disgraceful Brexit propaganda of the referendum. Each laments that social media and other dark arts of new technology have unprecedented power to manipulate and mislead a huge proportion of the population. The authors are to be congratulated on being among the first, although surely not the last, to ponder the meaning of the political disasters of 2016 and to worry about the climate that gave birth to them.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s July issue: Steve Richards, Rachel Sylvester and Shiv Malik—as well as Chris Hanretty and Julian Glover—cover the fallout from the recent general election. Richards looks at how the assumptions of centrist politics were upended and how Labour managed to stun the nation—a point that Chris Hanretty explores in more detail, explaining how Corbyn turned the tide for social democracy. Sylvester questions how Theresa May managed to squander her majority—Julian Glover says it wasn’t just May’s failure, the ideas were flawed, too. Shiv Malik explores the remarkable surge in the youth vote and says parties can no longer ignore their concerns. Also in this issue: Dexter Dias argues that to understand terrorism we need to better understand human nature, Paul Wallace looks at the state of the state and asks whether the government is capable of fulfilling large scale changes to the way the state works and Sam Tanenhaus profiles Mike Pence—should we be worried about him becoming the next president?
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