06 Aug Research Report | Truth Decay: Fighting for Facts and Analysis – RAND Corporation
RAND is studying “Truth Decay”—the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. As a nonpartisan institution that seeks to advance the public good through research and analysis, RAND is concerned about the threat Truth Decay poses to evidence-based policymaking. We invite fellow researchers and engaged stakeholders to join our efforts to find solutions.
Defining “Truth Decay”
RAND defines Truth Decay as the diminishing role of facts and data in American public life. There are four trends that characterize Truth Decay:
- increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data
- a blurring of the line between opinion and fact
- the increasing relative volume and resulting influence of opinion and personal experience over fact
- declining trust in formerly respected sources of facts.
Most of these trends are not unprecedented in American history. But today’s level of disagreement over objective facts is a new phenomenon. So how did we get here?
RAND research has investigated what’s causing and compounding this problem. The main drivers of Truth Decay include
- cognitive biases
- the rise of social media and other changes to the information environment
- demands on the educational system that limit its ability to keep up with changes in the information ecosystem
- political and social polarization.
RAND’s research agenda addresses these issues and much more. But research and analysis alone cannot solve the complex problem of Truth Decay. Policymakers, media companies, and individuals must also act on the basis of this research.
Read the Report
Declining Trust in Facts and Institutions Imposes Costs on Society
“Truth Decay” is the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in American public life. It has many damaging consequences: the erosion of civil discourse, political paralysis, alienation and disengagement from political and civic institutions, and uncertainty over U.S. policy.
Michael D. Rich
President and Chief Executive Officer, RAND Corporation
Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. For more than 40 years, Rich has helped RAND become a leading source of expertise,…
Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center
Jennifer Kavanagh is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and associate director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in the RAND Arroyo Center. Her research focuses on U.S. political institutions and public opinion and their implications for U.S. foreign and domestic…