Truth to be Told

‌Truth to be Told is a UCD Humanities Institute public lecture series in response to the emergence of what is called a ‘post-factual’ world in which trustworthy models of discursive truth have been derided as old-fashioned, elitist and authoritarian.

A founding ideal for the world wide web was to allow everyone unprecedented access to share information, knowledge and truth unconstrained by established hierarchies and institutions. What followed was a social media revolution that enabled people to exchange information at little cost, producing new modes of online citizenship and participation. The Arab Spring seemed to then provide evidence that the social media could indeed empower revolutionary grassroots movements.

But more recent political events cast doubt that social media networks simply enhance citizenship: “digital wildfires” of fake news are increasing and seem to be unstoppable. Such disinformation is hard to discredit because counter-measures are not spectacular, fact-checking takes expertise and resources, and public debate requires more than fleeting attention. To be sure, social media platforms can enhance public debate but they may lock people into echo chambers where prejudices solidify into belief systems that are not tested against truth. And so it is not surprising that authoritarian states have begun to exploit social media by deploying trolls and unleashing bots to spread fabricated information, outright lies or fragmented facts without context.

Responding to a crisis of truth and democracy, this lecture series aims to debate the socio-political, ethical, discursive and cultural implications of truth as a common good. Public lectures by internationally renowned speakers will examine some of the following topics: truth and the law, truth in stories, truth and memory, truth in history, truth within institutions, truth and the media, truth in art.

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The Hon Mr Justice Peter Charleton
Truth and the Law
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Professor Dame Marina Warner
Truth in Stories

Thursday, 7 December 2017‌