The Politics of Truth in Polarized America

ISBN : 9780197578384

David C. Barker; Elizabeth Suhay
456 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2021
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In American politics, the truth is rapidly losing relevance. The public square is teeming with misinformation, conspiracy theories, cynicism, and hubris. Why has this happened? What does it mean? What can we do about it? In this volume, leading scholars offer multiple perspectives on these questions, and many more, to provide the first comprehensive empirical examination of the "politics of truth" - its context, causes, and potential correctives. With experts in social science weighing in, this volume examines different drivers such as the dynamics of politically motivated fact perceptions. Combining insights from the fields of political science, political theory, communication, and psychology and offering substantial new arguments and evidence, these chapters draw compelling - if sometimes competing - conclusions regarding this rising democratic threat.


The Politics of Truth in Polarized America: Contexts, Concepts, Causes, and Correctives.
Elizabeth Suhay, David C. Barker, and Ryan DeTamble
Part I: Context & Concepts
1. Neither Dogmatism Nor Relativism: Lessons from the Politics of Truth in Western Philosophy
Alan Levine
2. Lies, Damn Lies, and Democracy
Robert Shapiro
3. The Social Function of News and (Mis)Information Use
Benjamin Toff
4. The Expressive Value of Answering Survey Questions
Matthew H. Graham and Gregory A. Huber
5. American Hubris: The Politics of Unwarranted Epistemic Certitude in the United States
David C. Barker, Morgan Marietta, and Ryan DeTamble
Part II: Causes
6. The Psychology of Groups and the Politics of Misinformation
Michael Bang Petersen, Mathias Osmundsen, and John Tooby
7. Political Sub-Groups, Knowledge, and Information: Gun Issues and Gun Ownership
Donald Haider-Markel, Abigail Vegter, and Patrick Gauding
8. Value Projection and the Marketplace of Realities
David C. Barker and Morgan Marietta
9. Conspiracy Theories and Political Identities
Adam Enders and Joseph Uscinski
10. Conspiracy Stress or Relief? Learned Helplessness and Conspiratorial Thinking
Christina E. Farhart, Joanne M. Miller, and Kyle L. Saunders
Part III: Correctives
11. Opinion Formation in Light of the Facts: How Correcting Mistaken Beliefs about Income Inequality Affects Public Support for Redistribution
Cheryl Boudreau and Scott A. MacKenzie
12. Can Facts Change Minds? The Case of Free Trade
Ethan Porter and Thomas Wood
13. Do Facts Change Public Attitudes toward Fiscal Policy?
John Sides
14. Authoritarianism, Fact-Checking, and Citizens' Response to Presidential Election Information
Amanda Wintersieck
15. Combatting the Anti-Muslim Rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential Campaign: An Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Corrective News
Kim Fridkin and Jilian Courey
16. Citizen Deliberation as a Correction: The Role of Deliberative Mini-Publics in Addressing Political Misperceptions
Justin Reedy, Chris Anderson and Paole Conte
17. Intuitive Politics and Why Thinking Isn't Guaranteed to Save Us
Kevin Arceneaux and Ryan J. Vander Wielen

About the author: 

David C. Barker is Professor of Government and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, where he co-founded the Program on Legislative Negotiation. He has written extensively on the subjects of American public opinion, electoral behavior, political psychology, political parties, and political governance, including three books: Rushed to Judgment (2002; Columbia University Press), Representing Red and Blue (with Christopher Jan Carman; 2012; Oxford University Press), and One Nation, Two Realities (with Morgan Marietta; 2019; Oxford University Press). His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and many others.; Elizabeth Suhay is Associate Professor of Government at American University. Her research on public opinion, political psychology, and political communication has appeared in The American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Political Behavior, among many other peer-reviewed outlets, and it has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Russell Sage Foundation. She is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion (with Bernard Grofman and Alexander Trechsel) and the The Politics of Science in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (with James Druckman).

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