The BBC was recently exposed for buying more copies of the Guardian than of any other paper. I imagine they must get through quote a pile of Guardians at Oxford Dictionaries, too. How else could they have come up with the idea of making ‘post-truth’ their word of the year?
The trouble with the concept of ‘post-truth’ is that it is itself untrue. It implies that there was a golden age of scientific reason which has now passed. There wasn’t. People have always been prone to superstition, prejudice and to making emotional judgements. They still are, but if anything, scientific evidence is treated with far more reverence than it ever has been. As Claire Fox observed in the Spectator last week, there has been a noticeable trend in public debate over the past decade towards people quoting statistics and studies to back up their arguments.
‘Post truth’ is what the left shouts at you when you refuse to accept any evidence dressed up as science. Or at least if you refuse to accept evidence which backs up its own prejudices. If you dare challenge the scientific consensus on climate change (which is not so much of a consensus when you examine it in detail, rather than just the digest prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) then you are acting post-truth. Cite evidence which supports the safety of GM crops or fracking, on the other hands, and the term ‘post-truth’ doesn’t tend to get used – on these subjects the left tends not to take much notice of the science because it is not aligned with its own prejudices.