Part 1: "Post-truth" and "the lost realm of knowledge"
In the first segment, join Lee McIntyre, author of "Post Truth" and "The Scientific Attitude," and Joy Yueyue Zhang, senior lecturer in sociology at University of Kent, as they investigate the roots and repercussions of science denial.
McIntyre describes the phenomenon of "post-truth," when facts are less influential than appeals to emotion, as a consequence of disinformation. He claims the practice of insisting something is true despite knowing it is not is nothing new, attributing it to "50 years of unchecked science denial" going back to the days of tobacco lobbyists insisting cigarettes didn't cause cancer, and to reports in 2015 of ExxonMobil’s history of climate denial. While Zhang wouldn’t call it "post-truth," she does describe a "lost realm of knowledge" that exists today. She points out that a lack of data transparency has led to skepticism in science.
Taken from their conversations, there are typically two methods of tampering with truth:
- To distract from the truth;
- To remove it entirely.
Methods of distraction are prevalent in the U.S., exemplified by practices of the Trump Administration, while censorship is more common in China. At the end of the day, who does this affect? And how do people get others to care that this is happening?
- "The Price of Denialism," by Lee McIntyre
- "How to Talk to COVID-19 Deniers," by Lee McIntyre
- "How to Revert the Assault on Science," by Lee McIntyre
- "To keep nationalism in check, nurture science solidarity," by Joy Y. Zhang
Part 2: The fight against climate change
In the second half, meet Lina Yassin, a Sudanese journalist and program manager at Climate Tracker, a nonprofit organization that supports and trains climate journalists, and François-Marie Bréon, climatology researcher at Association Française pour l’Information Scientifique.
Yassin describes flash flooding and excessive heat in Sudan that are clear indicators of climate change directly affecting the country. But because effects vary among different places — like between Sudan and France — she notes there exists an "inequality" in the fight against climate change.
Bréon suggests a couple ways that could help reduce the effects of climate change:
- Shutting down coal plants in favor of nuclear power;
- Decreasing international travel.
But as it turns out, even during the COVID era of less air travel, total carbon emissions did not reduce that much. He explains the positive effects of combating climate change take a long time to actually manifest. "People will not see the benefit of their own behavior in their lifetime," he says, and that is the challenge that climate change activists grapple with.