I am afraid that the next edition of the Trust Barometer, which will be presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, will again show a disheartening balance on the negative evolution of confidence in the world during the last year. Less truth, less trust. This is the fate of a time when lies, disguised as post-ruth, has conquered government houses and palaces in all parts of the world.
The fight against lies should be included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Some of them and especially the last two (“Peace, Justice and Solidarity Institutions” and “Alliances to achieve objectives“) will not be possible if we are not able to recover a climate of trust that facilitates dialogue between people, creeds and geographies. We need to open new conversations to ensure balanced, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
In a world whose borders between truth and deception is only translucent, relationships based on mutual respect, reciprocity, balance and trust will not be fostered. If postruth nests in the media, they will not be able to exercise with rigor the role of watchers of the truth that society has given them and they will become mere propagators of interested versions of a reality completely deformed by partisan perceptions.
The battle of poverty must not be limited to the fight against hunger, but also against intellectual poverty, that lack of moral arguments that allows us to live with the lie without producing too many discomforts. Or that frees us from listening to others and discarding those points of view of those who do not look like or from where we look.
It is the echo chamber effect, which makes us receive only those opinions that coincide with our ideology and that we commune with the mill wheels of those whose thoughts we share. But the one responsible is not the algorithm that supplants our intelligence, but our selfish and lazy individualism. By renouncing critical perspectives we appropriate a truth that lacks the foundations of the contrast of opinions and, consequently, is barely sustained on a superficial and slippery terrain.
Postruth flees from deeds like a bat out of hell. The facts have to return to occupy a central role in the communication processes. This does not mean renouncing emotions, which are consubstantial to the human condition, but to dissociate them from the events that produce them. One should not abdicate one’s opinions either, but simply be aware that they are the expression of our judgments and beliefs and, as such, are just a few more waves in the ocean of perceptions.
In 2018 we will have to fight the battle of truth. The communicators are called to nurture the vanguard of the front, to preach loud and clear that there is no alternative to authenticity. It seems incredible that in times of hypertransparency the greatest claim is truth, the primacy of evidence over suspicion, the triumph of certainty over uncertainty, the victory of authenticity over hypocrisy, the defeat of lies at the hands of the reality, the conquest of rigor and the exile of frivolity.
Georg Ch. Lichtenberg, a German scientist, argued that “it is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without scorching someone’s beard.”. Let’s not be afraid of the fire of truth. If someone singes a lie, it is he who propagates it.