Friday, May 25, 2018

In Praise of Using Facts

image from Critical Merchandise
We in the library biz tend to like the idea of seeking out reliable sources and basing decisions on what we find. But we aren't the only ones.

You can even find T-shirts to show your support, with captions like "Facts and Evidence: They're Gr-r-eat!" or "Demand Evidence and Think Critically."

The Pew Research Center and the RAND Corporation—two non-partisan institutions many people trust for gathering and analyzing facts—are looking at American society's changing attitudes toward facts.

RAND calls it Truth Decay, "the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life." You can download a report (326 pages!), Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life (2018) to dig deep or you can explore the website for commentary and videos, Truth Decay and the Spirit of the Law, which was originally in the Daily Journal (California).

Pew's project is called Trust, Facts and Democracy It includes lots of interesting reports on Pew's public opinion research.

See also Facts Matter, from the Urban Institute.
image from Tee Shirt Palace

If you're as fascinated as I am, here are some books for your summer reading:

Jennifer L. Hochschild, Do Facts Matter? Information and Misinformation in American Politics (2015)

Dave Levitan, Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science (2017)

Daniel Levitin, Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era (2017)

Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters (2017)

And if you'd like some data for your area of interest, check out our guide, Statistics for Law & Policy.

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