America is more divided than ever—and dangerously so. We need not look any further than the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election. The denial of objective truth by those in power—be it sowing doubt about the results of the national election, the severity of COVID-19, racism, or the work of journalists—continues to erode public trust and threatens our democracy. And while there are renewed calls for the teaching of civics, media literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, there is no clear path ahead on what that instruction should look like to reach all corners of a divided nation, or if these skills inoculate the nation against a future crisis.
How do educators, some of whom may be contributing to the misinformation unknowingly, break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth—even when they themselves struggle to separate fact from fiction? And what does this new form of “trutherism” or “post-truth” reality mean for our students? Researcher Jennifer Kavanagh, one of the authors of the Rand Corp.’s study Truth Decay, and her research colleague Alice Huguet join Peter for a conversation about what’s on the line.
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