Challenging Lies In A Post-Truth World

Now, lying is intensely fashionable. All the leaders do it. Nigel Farage did it, Boris Johnson did it, Donald Trump did it, Mike Pence did it, and nobody seems to care. In fact their popularity seems to rise with every lie, every denial of fact, and every fantastic fantasy.

In fact, in our Donald Trump and Brexit era, Oxford Dictionaries has just declared ‘post-truth’ to be its international word of the year – indeed, it looks set to be one of the defining words of our time. (

Working in advertising, I guess I’m used to hyperbole, but we have pretty stringent regulation around ‘fact’ and failing to follow these regulations can lead to serious consequences, fines and more.

In business, lying is a bad thing. A CEO lies to his shareholders or misrepresents the truth about his business, they are held liable. They can be taken to court and they can ultimately be imprisoned.

So if a politician says: “If we leave the EU, we will put an extra £350million a week into the National Health Service”, which everyone can see needs all the help in the world, wins votes and popularity, and then says “not really” the day after, nothing happens.

There is no comeback. We may feel less positive about the individuals but they’re not in trouble like I would’ve been as a child – they are not lurching towards the courts like management at RBS or VW for similar lies/cover ups.

When Trump says “I will build a wall” and doesn’t, when he intones “I will register all Muslims” and doesn’t, when he in all seriousness claims that climate change is a “hoax invented by the Chinese” then says it was only a joke. or says “I’ve never met Putin” (the photos don’t lie), nobody cares. In fact, it seems like it’s just accepted as okay behaviour.

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