Summary of Truth Decay

Looking for the report?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 5 minutes.

Truth Decay summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans


8 Overall

9 Importance

8 Innovation

6 Style


Americans’ trust in institutions and objective facts is waning, assert Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich of Rand Corp. Many books have discussed the increasing partisanship of US politics, but this work distinguishes itself by focusing on the “truth decay” that both drives and results from this divide. Kavanagh and Rich delve into the statistics describing Americans’ rising distrust of the mainstream media and an increasing propensity to vote along strict party lines. While democracies, in theory at least, thrive on the free flow of information, the authors make the compelling and contentious argument that the increasing availability of news and commentary online and on television feeds truth decay. As they see it, the sheer volume of content and fake news crowds out legitimate facts – and few American voters are equipped to cope with this onslaught. The study is scrupulously nonpartisan; indeed, the authors can sometimes seem apolitical to a fault. Though published in early 2018, the book barely mentions US president Donald Trump, whom critics on both the left and the right consider Exhibit A in political prevaricating. Those shortcomings aside, this work provides fresh insight into a political climate increasingly untethered from old norms, and it offers solutions for turning the tide.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How “truth decay” threatens democracy,
  • Why partisanship has increased in recent years and
  • How to turn the tide of truth decay.

About the Author

Jennifer Kavanagh is a political scientist and associate director of Rand Corp.’s Strategy, Doctrine and Resources Program. Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive of the nonprofit Rand Corp.



A Threat to American Democracy

“Truth decay” has taken over American political discourse. This threat to democracy is marked by four themes:

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Republican Like Me
The War on Science
The Death of Expertise
What Happened
Can It Happen Here?
The Next America

Related Channels

Comment on this summary