Recent events end elections (U.S.) have shown that people increasingly tend to believe that

Perception is reality.

In other words, emotions seem to have gained a lot more importance during the last months or years. For some, this is also partly the reason for the uprising of far-right movements such as the Front national in France, UKIP in Great Britain and the AfD in Germany.

I only know of the rhetorics in the U.S. and Germany, but in both countries we could see politically relevant actors (President Trump and AfD members such as Björn Höcke) often saying highly exaggerated, verifiable false statements. In case support for this claim is required, I refer to this article, with the English translation begin available here.

However, the number of people who still believe these falsified statements is not to be ignored and in case of Donald Trump is even said to be crucial for him becoming president of the U.S. The same goes with measures such as his aim to build a wall in order to prohibit illegal immigration from Mexico or the statements of AfD-leader Frauke Petry, according to which she would like to live in a country (Germany)

where boys and girls can go swimming without being fondled.

(see this link on a German news site)

This is just one example for exaggerations not a few people tend to believe or which they connect to emotionally.

To conclude, we can see a rising number of people who believe transparently falsified statements (post-truth) or value the importance of emotions higher than that of facts. My question is if there are any important events or developments which might have accelerated the trend towards "post-truth" especially in the Western world.

Do note that this question is not country-specific, because we can see the trend mentioned above happening in many Western democracies. Also, please do keep it mind that this is a rather important topic not only but also because there will be major elections in France and Germany this year. Because of that, I would like to understand what brought not few people to the relationship between facts, emotions and politics we can see today.

In case there might be problems with the question not complying with the question requirements (aka "too broad" etc.) I will do what I can to change that.

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    Both sides exaggerate. Both sides spread lies. And it has happened since politics has been invented, a couple of millennia ago. – Sjoerd Feb 5 '17 at 1:57
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    There's a kernel of a good question there, but it's buried under a mountain of ranting about how politicians you don't agree with lie (and apparently those you agree with are paragons of truth). – user4012 Feb 5 '17 at 3:38
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    Have you noticed that some other politics and mass media exaggerate some facts? Or only people whom you mentioned in you question do this? If not, why have you decided to use emotions and exaggeration to ask this question? – Salvador Dali Feb 5 '17 at 12:50

The main developments are two, and neither one had anything to do with politics, ironically:

  1. Philosophically and culturally, the "post-truth" approach was put on a sound foundation when Western academia - and later, the broader culture under its influence - began its affair with postmodernism. Quoting from the Wiki definition:

    an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth

  2. Tactically, people en masse began to realize that the emotional and not logical approach is more effective, in part, thanks to popularization of the concepts of behavioral economics (Kahneman and Tversky).

    The basic idea behind their insights is that human decision making is influenced not by rational thinking about facts, but by biases and emotions.

Of course, as an earlier answer pointed out, humans vying for leadership embraced lying and appealing to emotions all the way back to when Ugh grunted to Egh that he'll influence the spirits to bring the tribe bigger mammoths if he's selected as a tribal chief. It was most certainly heavily used by known ancient rulers - from Persian emperors who left behind what were clearly fictitious accounts of themselves, to Cleon of Athens; from Alexander the Great's mom claiming he was a product of an affair with a god to Augustus who commissioned art to portray himself as humble and a man of the people.

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    Double irony is, of course, that postmodernism was a left-wing movement (see Rational Wiki article for some background), and its ideas were first and mainly applied in politics by left wing - up and until Trump beat them at their own game. – user4012 Feb 5 '17 at 3:27
  • Hey you stole my answer from here politics.stackexchange.com/questions/14718/… – K Dog Feb 5 '17 at 12:50
  • It's an interesting idea; but isn't it merely noting a resemblence of two notions about truth? One, the academic post-modern notion of disbelief in grand narratives and the other, a contemporary political and cultural form. There ought to be some research somewhere demonstrating whether this resemblence is actually causal, or not. – Mozibur Ullah Jun 23 '18 at 4:46

My question is if there are any important events or developments which might have accelerated the trend towards "post-truth" especially in the Western world.

There aren't one but a few that contributed to this post truth thing, in no particular order.

  1. One sided media coverage: rather than reporting both sides of the story, they report their favorite side. Rather than reporting facts, the report opinion disguised as facts. To fight back, you have to respond in kind, with shock and awe.

  2. Dearth of independent thinkers: our education system failed to produce people who can think critically and independently. Rather than individually assess what Trump said, they rely on the one sided media to feed them the narrative.

  3. Commercialization of media: it is ever more important to get eyeballs. That favors shock and awe.

  4. Declining of journalism: think about those who voluntarily subjected their editorial control to a particular candidate. Or those that passed debate Intel and questions to that candidate.

When we need to resort to hackers to see through the fog's of under handed politics that favored the chosen one over those picked by voters, it tells you that people long for real journalism that left us many decades ago.

What transpired last year pales in comparison to the water gate scandal. That tells you how low we have sunk.

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    And if you dig to a layer deeper than that, you find human nature. The tactics unfortunately work, which is why they're used. – user11810 Feb 5 '17 at 3:00
  • I don't think that there is a 'dearth of independent thinkers'; it's merely that their voices are marginalised and so not heard; of course, this pretty much amounts to the same thing. – Mozibur Ullah Jun 23 '18 at 4:30

Post-truth politics came as a natural development of cynicism with politics. Journalists started asking less reverential, more aggressive questions. Ironically an effort to provide "balance" by offering opposing views gave the impression that all politicians are liars and that there is always an alternative "truth" that is worthy of consideration.

Politicians themselves abused statistics and selected facts to suit their position. It became common to have two politicians with their own facts and statistics, all true but supporting completely opposing positions.

From there is was a natural progression to simply stop pretending to be honest and truthful, and simply tell people what they want to hear. People will assume everything you say is a lie anyway, so why not just lie?

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  • Can you maybe provide some real world examples which illustrate these trends? – Philipp Jun 22 '18 at 11:50

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