Our “post-truth” readings included the New York Times articles “Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready” by Thomas Edsall (Edsall 2020) and “Post-Truth Politics Afflicts the Global South, Too” by Laura Chinchilla (Chinchilla 2019), as well as the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, particularly its sections exploring “Why Public Engagement Matters” and “How We Respond” to climate change. Edsall’s article explains phenomenons such as “The Polarization of Reality” and “transgressive advocacy” that have become particularly visible in the rise of Donald Trump and his effect on American politics. Specifically, Edsall explains how the campaign to re-elect Trump utilizes disinformation, particularly in the digital realm, without repercussions, and how the use of political incorrectness “makes communicators appear more authentic—specifically, less susceptible to external influence.”
This exploitation of our post-truth reality is alarming because, as David Karpf reminds us, “disinformation does not have to sway many votes to be toxic to democracy.” Chinchilla’s article expands this analysis of “post-truth” and digital disinformation to the global South, where the spread of misinformation and manipulation presents an urgent threat. The AAAS addresses the engagement of the public over science and facts, an important consideration in our era of “post-truth” and disregarding fact. They argue that “Mutual learning refers not just to the acquisition of knowledge, but also to increased familiarity with a breadth of perspectives, frames, and worldviews,” feeling that the public cannot simply be acquainted with the facts of science and climate change, but that we must develop an understanding of the different narratives and underlying biases that impact our relationship with the truth, thus engaging on a deeper level. We can frame this engagement in the framework of What, the environmental issue, How, the means of connection, and Who, the audience/participants.
There are many aspects of PCUN, as an organization that focuses on farmworker rights, that relate to post-truth. Within PCUN’s sphere of issues and projects is immigration reform. Migrant labor and immigration are issues that generate mass amounts of alternative facts exacerbated greatly by Trump’s presidency. The “facts” around immigration that are spread by this administration perpetuate ideas that people can be “illegal” or “alien”, as well as claiming that immigrants have higher crime rates while there have been many studies which have shown that crime rates among immigrants are actually lower than among native born U.S. Citizens (Torrey 2017).
These alternative , or actual false facts pose issues for the work that PCUN aims to accomplish. By creating an association between immigration and crime, these “facts” could potentially make it difficult for PCUN to successfully work on immigration reform and educating immigrants about their rights without the connotation that they are somehow promoting increased crime.
Another issue related to PCUN is pesticide use. PCUN states the goals of their Healthy Workplaces program as “documenting pesticide exposure, controlling pesticide use and controlling pesticide use.” PCUN firmly places itself against the use of pesticides, going so far as working to ban some such as chlorpyrifos. PCUN asserts that pesticides should not be used because of their negative health effects. While this may be difficult to argue against, farm owners may argue that their practices are safe and that pesticides are necessary to combat invasive species and other infestations of their crops.
In order to search for a common truth with those who may disagree on details, AAAS creates an approach to engagement fact presentation that may serve as a viable path towards change. Since AAAS looks at a softer approach rather than a firmer presentation of the facts the collective search for the truth from both parties could incorporate change. As students in this field it is important to recognize the diverse backgrounds of our country and the world as we attempt to spread knowledge. Each persons history could leave them in a different area however as long as we are all looking to improve hope remains.
Chinchilla, Laura. 2019. “Post-Truth Politics Afflicts the Global South, Too.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/opinion/politics-global-south.html.
Karpf, David. 2019. “On Digital Disinformation and Democratic Myths.” MediaWell, December 10. mediawell.ssrc.org/expert-reflections/on-digital-disinformation-and-democratic-myths/.
Thomas, Edsall. 2020. “Trump Is Waiting and He Is Ready.” The New York Times. The New York Times,February 12. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/opinion/trump-campaign-2020.html.
Torrey, Phillip. 2017. “Alternative Facts in the War on Immigrants.” Harvard Law & Policy Review, March 24. https://harvardlpr.com/2017/03/03/alternative-facts-in-the-war-on-immigrants/.