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Facts in a Post-Truth Era

Åsa Wikforss

Why do we sometimes believe what we want to believe, even when it goes against the evidence? Theoretical philosopher at Stockholm University Åsa Wikforss explores psychology, human biases, disinformation, trust and 'alternative facts' to outline her view.

Instructor
  • rsz asa wikforss gothenburg city theatre 20190219
    Åsa Wikforss

    Åsa Wikforss is a professor of theoretical philosophy at Stockholm University. In 2019, she was elected as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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About the Course

 

In recent years, the term post-truth has become a pillar of almost every political and philosophical discussion. But few of us have thought about why it is we are so susceptible to fake news and disinformation, and why it has a particular hold over us now.

In this course, theoretical philosopher at Stockholm University Åsa Wikforss takes us through the psychology, philosophy, politics and science of post-truth and shows us how to fight it. Professor Wikforss discusses the vulnerabilities in our biological makeup and our language that leave us susceptible to fake news and defines what an era of new trust would look like. Ultimately, she concludes, while we are susceptible to post-truth, it is not an inevitable part of our future.

 

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • The origins of science denial
  • The political theory of fact polarization
  • The unique nature of human knowledge accumulation
  • The politicalisation of climate science in the USA
  • Connection between facts and personal identity
  • Difference between misinformation and disinformation
  • The power of false-narratives

 

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, and discussion boards to have your say.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Åsa Wikforss

    Åsa Wikforss is a professor of theoretical philosophy at Stockholm University. On 9 May 2019, she was elected as a member of the Swedish Academy, to succeed Sara Danius.

    Wikforss does research in the intersection of philosophy of mind, language and epistemology, and has published widely on a variety of topics in the area. She is a member of several international research networks and research councils and was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In September 2017 she published Alternativa fakta. Om kunskapen och dess fiender (Alternative facts. On knowledge and its enemies), a book that has had a great impact in Sweden.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Problems
    Why are we vulnerable to disinformation, and is it really worse today than ever before? Why are all of us prone to resist evidence and hold on to mistaken beliefs?
  • Part Two: What We Can Do
    What can be done to stop 'knowledge resistance'? Wikforss discusses the role of emotion and argues that critical thinking isn't always enough to beat disinformation.