On Pursuing the Truth in the ‘Post-Truth’ Age

On Pursuing the Truth in the ‘Post-Truth’ Age
Modernity, as it spanned across the civilizational landscape in lieu of the revolutionizing rigors of the Renaissance (and the socio-political innovations it begot across a range of interweaving disciplines, of both intellectual thought and cultural practice – over the course of the few centuries that proceeded it), greatly emphasized the entrenchment of certain realist ideals as ‘norms’ to be followed and adhered to. While the devastating and oppressive periods of settler colonialism and subjugation certainly come across as some of its more bitter sociological aspects (seen in the enslavement of entire populations of the formerly sovereign peoples of the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, the continental United States, as well as the territories in South-east Asia – backed by such intrinsically racist assertions as Kipling’s ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and Macaulay’s ‘Minute upon Indian Education’), Modernity also sought to equip mankind with a series of intellectual tools that have wrought many advances for the species as a whole. Perhaps the greatest and most formative legacy of the said age lies in its almost religious advocacy of the Scientific Method as the definitive ‘gauge’ to determine the truth (empirically and/or scientifically verifiable fact) from merely abstract speculation. It is this ‘barometer of the factual’, as it were, that has become increasingly at risk in our contemporary Internet-based culture.

How Internet Is Helping People

The internet does not only serve us in the form of a virtual encyclopaedia, where every nugget of information that it provides can simply be taken for its face value as being both correct and credibly sourced. In like fashion, it has no overarching author(s) with a deciding hegemony over what content continues to be featured in its many web pages – something which is completely up to individual site maintainers (and the agendas that they harbour). The domain of the natural sciences is less contentious, in that rigorous empirical analyses on proposed hypotheses – and particularly when they have attained the status of being indisputable scientific laws – lead all experts in the field to agree on the findings once they have been established.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the social sciences and the humanities – for the simple reason that the human conscience and agency (both individually and collectively) are inherently unpredictable historical ‘decidables’ which no abstract laws of the social sphere can hope to pin down with mathematical accuracy. The current onslaught of high-speed best internet plans offered by legions of ISP vendors have raised the info-disseminating potential for this bitterly contested social sphere, where every internet user has now become an expert at promoting his/her version of experienced cultural phenomenon as the only legitimate version of the truth; primarily through the social media. And these alternative accounts do have an impact – much more than what some people think.

Internet And Politics

Recent political events on the world-stage have borne testimony to this new age online trend, where multiple narratives compete with each other in order to lay their claim to the mindsets of greater bulks of people – and to engage them in lieu of a particular social doctrine. The situation is analogous to the everyday observations of politicians vying for votes from the public and competing against their peers, who offer to oppose and alternate agendas meant for being gradually assimilated by the same audience. Take the case of the 2016 U.S Presidential Elections, for instance – a fitting historical study which culminated in the ultimate contest between establishment-backed political interests and popular nationalism verging on demagoguery.

Supporters of the Trump camp (helped along by foreign, notably ‘Russian’, interests) made rampant use of the web through the same best internet plans to disperse their extremely isolationist views to the public. This is not to say that the opposing Clinton camp did not use similar discourse-setting tactics – their message, however, was largely of a more globalist and inclusive nature and represented a continuation of traditional Washington politics. The Trump campaign’s default-slogan of ‘fake news’, and its deployment as the all-in-one solution to contending against all news charges of vile misconduct, tax evasion and foreign-state collusion vividly exposes the astonishing confusion and ambiguity that has now become an existential feature of this age. But what comes off as most saddening, and is really a blatant manifestation of some deep-rooted ignorance, is the populists’ firm denial of such issues as climate change and structural discrimination (endemic in their societies), as well as their general vociferously-professed preference for enshrining the myopic conception of the nation over the more pluralistic one-world idea.

Right Use Of Internet Services

But the Internet can also be used to counter the spread of false information. Concerned social activists and academicians have increasingly begun to write blogs and short-worded memes using their best internet plans for instant proliferation online – since a wrong idea can only be dispelled by a correct one. And in some quarters of the society, their efforts have indeed borne fruit. The anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ movement currently raging in the U.S is visual proof of this.

Certain ISP vendors in the country, like Charter (hailed as the ‘fastest internet provider’ by many rating agencies) have taken it upon themselves to lead the fight against this virulent disinformation head-on. Through its online portal on cableninternet.com, the company offers high-speed and resource-rich plans to the premier scientific and research facilities in the country, which then actively aim to curb the tide of ‘fake news’ by publishing their findings on a daily basis.
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