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Why ‘Facts Matter’ – evidence, trust and literacy in a post-truth world

The expression ‘post-truth’ has been with us for a decade or more. The issue it describes – that there is no such thing as an objective ‘truth’ - has its roots in the centuries-old epistemological problem of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’.

The concept has gained fresh currency in light of the rise of populist political movements between 2015 and 2016. It presents us as information professionals with a central challenge – what should be our ethical response to the idea that there is no ‘truth’ and that data can be applied selectively to legitimise any political assertion?

In her recent address to the American Libraries Association, Hillary Clinton said, “As librarians, you have to be on the frontlines of one of the most important fights we've ever faced in the history of our country. The fight to defend truth and reason and evidence and facts.” In this session, CILIP CEO Nick Poole explored the consequences of undermining public trust in evidence, and the need for information professionals to re-state and defend the role of evidence, trust and literacy in information sources. You can read the full text on his blog dedicated to matters of post-truth.

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