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Truth in a Post-Truth World

Truth in a Post-Truth World – New BWB Text by Jess Berentson-Shaw

I knew, and know still, that there is good science and bad science, misinformation and reliable information, truth and falsehood, and also much grey in between… But being more adamant, more right, having more facts, was not helping. It was possibly even the problem.

In a digital world consumed by fake news and toxic social media, conspiracy and rumour spread faster than ever and are increasingly hard to debunk. Manipulation of information and the spread of misinformation on online platforms is now widely recognised as a significant threat to democracies around the world.

Equivalent to the concerns over free speech, how we combat false information online will determine the health of political debate in New Zealand and globally. How do we convincingly explain the difference between good information and misinformation? And conversely, how do we challenge our own pre-conceived notions of what we believe to be true?

In A Matter of Fact, Jess Berentson-Shaw draws on the latest international evidence to identify what works for effective communication and what doesn't. Why doesn't evidence convince us, but stories often do? How do people decide whether something is true or false? What is the best way to counter misinformation? (Hint: it's not by saying it's wrong.) These are just some of the questions explored in A Matter of Fact.

To illustrate the discussion, Berentson-Shaw draws on a range of contemporary and highly contentious issues. These include climate change, the gender pay gap, immunisation and fake news stories from the United States.

Ultimately, A Matter of Fact highlights that talking truth often involves not talking at all – it is about listening, building relationships and connecting with people. Berentson-Shaw argues that by referencing shared values rather than arguing about statistics, we can find innovative ways to talk effectively (and empathetically) about contentious information. A Matter of Fact is both an informative guide to constructive communication and a passionate reminder of the importance of finding what matters to us all.

About the Author

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw is a New Zealand researcher, writer and communicator with an interest in how we build public and political support for more inclusive and evidence-based policy.

She was awarded a PhD in Health Psychology from Victoria University in 2003 and has worked in the UK and New Zealand applying evidence to achieving equity in a variety of settings.

In 2017 Jess published Pennies from Heaven, a book that investigates the most effective policy actions for moving families and children out of poverty. She is co-director of the not-for-profit research and policy organisation The Workshop, and a research associate at the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland.

August 2018 | RRP: $14.99
9781988545387 | pp.192

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