Summary of What to Trust in a Post-Truth World

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What to Trust in a Post-Truth World summary
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8 Overall

10 Applicability

6 Innovation

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In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” to be its word of the year. The term refers to the growing tendency to discount facts in favor of personal beliefs. In an engaging presentation, London Business School professor Alex Edmans exposes the cognitive traps that lead people blindly astray from objectivity. Those who want to become active participants in moving the public discourse beyond post-truths will benefit from Edmans’s advice.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What confirmation bias comprises and
  • How to avoid common confirmation traps.
 

About the Speaker

Alex Edmans is a professor of finance at London Business School. 

 

Summary

The story of Belle Gibson, a young woman who claimed to have cured her cancer solely through healthy eating habits, touched millions of people. Most accepted Gibson’s story at face value without ever questioning its verity. They wanted it to be true. This is an example of confirmation bias. Alas, the story was a fabrication.  In the current “post-truth” era, people’s strained relationship with the truth is often blamed on their inability to get the facts straight. Yet Gibson’s anecdote wouldn’t have proven anything even if it were true. Hers was just a single account – an outlier case. Exceptional stories, however, get the most media attention because they are novel and extraordinary. Meanwhile, vast amounts of data that reject the theory that a healthy diet cures cancer never make the headlines.


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