Sydney Initiative for Truth | The Ethics of Truth
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The Ethics of Truth

“… one’s own memory and consciousness are both intriguing black holes. Your memories can deceive you.” Sun Xun: Tales of Our Time

New terms like “post-truth”, “alternative facts”, and “fake news” suggest truth has fallen in rank. If truth is losing status, who is responsible? Crafty politicians trying to shape the world to their benefit? Or our own fallible minds and memories, as celebrated Chinese artist Sun Xun suggests?

As part of the MCA Conversation Starters series coinciding with Sun Xun’s first Sydney exhibition, The Ethics Centre presents The Ethics of Truth, an experiential program that will bring together psychology, philosophy and linguistics to reveal to us the role we’ve played in creating a post-truth world.

Explore attitudes to truth across the ages through philosophy. Have your position on truth revealed to you through a thought experiment led by ethicist Simon Longstaff. Learn what can be done about our post-truth world with professor of linguistics Nick Enfield. And see the fallibility of our own perceptions with memory researcher Celine Van Golde.

Join us for a rich, participatory conversation to find truth in a post-truth world.



Philosopher Dr Simon Longstaff will run a thought experiment to test whether you feel truth should always be upheld above anything else. He the executive director of The Ethics Centre and co-curator of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Simon has been working closely with people of greatly diverse thinking, ethical viewpoints and different interpretations of truth for decades and has been made an officer of the Order of Australia.

Professor of linguistics Nick Enfield will show us the traits of human language and mind that have created this post-truth world. He is the head of the University of Sydney’s Post-Truth Initiative, a multidisciplinary unit that “examines fake news, alternative facts, lies, bullshit and propaganda with the aim to understand them, and to advise on how the truth might survive this climate”.

Memory researcher Dr Celine Van Golde will demonstrate the fallibility of our perceptions. She is the founding director of Not Guilty: The Sydney Exoneration Project, a psychology and law program that reviews possible wrongful convictions. She is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney.

Host Kym Middleton is the head of editorial and events at The Ethics Centre. She began her career as a news and current affairs journalist producing long form television programs, news coverage, and multimedia documentaries. Uncovering truth, fact, bias, conflicting narratives, claims, and counterclaims have long been a part of her work.

September 8 @ 13:00
13:00 — 14:30 (1h 30′)

Museum of Contemporary Art 140 George St. The Rocks NSW Australia 2000, Veolia Lecture Theatre

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