The rise of the internet was supposed to end the "era of mainstream media dominance" and herald in the "democratization of truth," says Michael Hirschorn at The Atlantic. The newspaper barons would no longer "own a monopoly on the facts. We, the people, would." But what has emerged instead is an era of "asymmetric information warfare" in which objective fact is lost in a "realm of politics and ideology." To put this confusing state of affairs in Twitter terms: "@glennbeck fact = or > @nytimes fact?" Here's an excerpt:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said (or is famously reputed to have said) that we may each be entitled to our own set of opinions, but we are not entitled to our own set of facts. In a time when mainstream news organizations have already ceded a substantial chunk of their opinion-shaping influence to Web-based partisans on the left and right, does each side now feel entitled to its own facts as well?...
More far-reachingly, how does society function (as it has since the Enlightenment gave primacy to the link between reason and provable fact) when there is no commonly accepted set of facts and assumptions to drive discourse?...
When you enter the realm of politics and ideology, the distinction between opinion and fact starts to cloud, and the stakes become dauntingly high; there is no system of communal "we" to rely on to hash out issues of truth."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
Subscribe to the Week