‘Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.’ – Voltaire
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Today, around the world, demagogues appeal to our worst instincts. Conspiracy theories, once confined to the fringe, are going mainstream. It’s as if the age of reason – the era of evidential argument is ending and our knowledge is increasingly delegitimized and scientific consensus is dismissed. Democracy, which depends on shared truths is in retreat and autocracy, which depends on shared lies, is on the march.
Hate crimes are surging as are murderers’ attacks on religious and ethnic minorities. Fake news outperforms real news because studies show that lies spread faster than truth. On the internet, everything can appear equally legitimate. The rantings of a lunatic can seem as credible as the findings of a Nobel Prize winner. How do we move forward from this or is this the inevitable nature of humanity?