The US presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum result both fuelled concerns about the rise of ‘post-truth politics’, with many painting 2016 as the dawn of a ‘post-factual era’. Almost the whole global economic, scientific and financial establishment lined up to warn of the consequences of Brexit, but 52% of the country ignored them. Accusations followed that people voted with their heart. It is assumed that if only the public ‘understood expert advice’ they would follow it; that there is no room for legitimate disagreement or debate. Have experts been over-reaching into areas where what is needed is not so much facts as political principles? Or if the facts are dismissed, will society sink into the mire of prejudice and superstition? Filmed at the Battle of Ideas the debate heats up as Professor Frank Furedi compellingly argues that ‘fact checking’ is a way of avoiding confronting ideas and values.
The speakers are: Professor Frank Furedi, sociologist and social commentator; author, What’s Happened to the University?, Power of Reading: from Socrates to Twitter, On Tolerance and Authority: a sociological history; Josh Lowe, European politics reporter, Newsweek; Professor Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine, consultant in neonatal medicine, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust; president, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist, author, Creation and A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Story In our Genes; presenter, Inside Science and The Cell. The chair is Claire Fox, director, Institute of Ideas; panellist, BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze and author, I Find That Offensive.