Evidence in a post-truth world

The ‘post-truth world’ has been defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2016). The rise of ‘post-truth’ requires us to go beyond the question of how robust the evidence is and consider how persuasive it is to audiences who are seeking not facts but comforting myths. Notwithstanding the need for robust evidence, what else can scientists do (and with whom do we need to collaborate) to engage and influence public, press and politicians at a time when our own credibility in their eyes is low and falling? This lecture will provide an academic overview of why ‘post-truth’ is such a defining feature of our times and what we as scientists can do to help ensure that our evidence-based findings have impact despite prevailing anti-science societal forces.