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SURVIVING THE MIS INFORMATION AGE

DAVID J. HELFAND

IN 2016 many in the mainstream media portentously declared we had entered the age of “post-truth politics” (Drezner 2016) and now live in a “post-factual democracy” (Barret 2016). With monetized “fake news” sites proliferating, tweets inconsistent with reality dominating political debate, and most citizens busily constructing echo chambers of their personal beliefs through their social media accounts, the hysteria may seem warranted. But as Alexios Mantzarlis of the Poynter Institute reminds us (Mantzarlis 2016), politicians, media commentators, and your next-door neighbor have been playing fast and loose with the “truth” for a long time.

Indeed, the classical scholar Edward M. Harris noted in his paper dissecting “Demosthenes Speech Against Medias” (Harris 1989) that 2,400 years ago in Athens, “although a witness who perjured himself could be prosecuted…an orator who spoke in court could indulge in as much fabrication as he wished without fear of punishment.” Harris went on to state: “In short, nothing aside from the knowledge of the audience and the limits of plausibility restrained the orator from inventing falsehoods and distorting the truth.”

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Surviving the Misinformation Age Vaccines, Autism, and the Promotion of Irrelevant Research: A Science-Pseudoscience Analysis Statin Denialism

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