Post-truth disinformation and risks for policymaking
Daniel Hinšt, Vice President of the Centre for Public Policy and Economic Analysis (CEA), participated at the international scientific conference STATE (IN)STABILITY in the age of post-truth, organized by Libertas International University.
Abstract – Post-truth in the context of disinformation and a risk for fact-based policymaking
The concept of ‘post-truth’ combines fake news, populist-driven conspiracy theories, revisionism and distrust of mainstream media, political institutions, and scientific expertise. Post-truth is usually a product of disinformation, which has broad societal and policy impacts, by trying to spread false dilemmas and narratives. When facts, critical thinking and scientific expertise become relative or irrelevant, the need for facts-based and evidence-based policymaking easily erodes. This risk can have a strong impact on the existing institutional structure of liberal democracies, including EU and NATO, foreign policy options and alliances among Western countries, with significant implications on global security of democratic countries. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director, mentioned the post-truth in his book The Assault on Intelligence. Hayden connects the post-truth with the alternative-facts narratives and the erosion of the Enlightenment values, which decrease the value of fact-based intelligence, and the ability of society to base important decisions on the best judgment of objective reality. This risk was especially present during the Trump era, when the former President compared the intelligence system with the Nazis and promoted a popular deep state narrative. While post-truth seems to be a modern term, disinformation that stands in the background is not new, but rather has deeper historical roots within the Soviet policy as well as within the revisionist Russian policy. This policy represents a challenge for the Western institutions, based on the Enlightenment values. Hereby, the main challenge is how to distinguish freedom of arguments-based opinion within the framework of liberal democracy and populist attempts to undermine facts. The last option would increase the political risk for democracies and policymaking as a rational process based on different options of factually informed stakeholders to solve complex societal problems.
Key words: Post truth, disinformation, revisionism, Enlightenment, intelligence, institutions, democracy
Daniel Hinšt completed the Advanced Master of European Studies, supported by Denmark, and graduated in Political Science, with specialization in public policy and public management, international relations and diplomacy, at the University of Zagreb. His master thesis explains the policy benefits of the Danish Flexicurity Model for labor market reforms within the EU. After the formal education, he received several online course certificates in this field of specialization, primarily organized by Leiden University from the Netherlands.
Daniel Hinšt is an author of many CEA’s policy analyzes, primarily focused on political economic reforms for competitive global rankings and geopolitical risks of disinformation. He is also the author of several scientific articles in cooperation with Libertas International University: Methodology of measuring the economic freedom and policy framework, which has been published by Libertas’ Acta Economica Et Turistica, and New Public Management – Public Policy for Institutional Reforms, that is planned to be published in the forthcoming edition of this scientific journal. Furthermore, his article Assessing Croatia’s policy performance within the European Union has been published by the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.