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Panel discusses the ‘reality’ of a post-factual world

Over 45 Weber State University students and faculty attended a discussion on the meaning of post-factual, also called post-truth in education. The discussion, which consisted of a panel of three speakers, was held on Feb. 22 in the Honors Center in the Stewart Library.

Leah Murray, one of the panelists and a professor of political science, shared the three realities.

Mediated reality is the reality that has the ability to add and subtract information to manipulate one’s point of view. Agreement reality is a reality that has not been experienced by the person but is known to be true. Experiential reality is information gained from personal experiences.

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Political science professor Dr. Leah Murray, center-left, speaks as a panelist at the WSU Honors Program’s discussion: The Role of Education in a Post-Fact World. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

“Agreement reality has been broken down in a post-truth, post-fact world,” said Murray.

Murray explained that it is the responsibility of educators to teach media literacy — for a student to be able to access, analyze and evaluate the media— for students to have that capability of knowing what is post-factual.

Adam Johnston, a WSU professor of physics and a specialist in science education, explained that it is hard for people to change their ideas about things and how that connects to mediated reality.

“I want this to be true; this is how the world should be,” said Johnston as an example of how some think in a mediated reality.

Tyler Hole, a WSU student majoring in geography and an intern at the Sustainability Practices and Research Center, was also part of the panel.

Hole discussed how Facebook provided post-factual information during the election and how over 50 percent of people said that they got their facts from Facebook.

“There is no gate keeper,” said Hole.

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SPARC student intern Tyler Hole, one of the panelist of the Honors Program discussion, “The Role of Education in a Post-Fact World.” (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

The event was organized by Dan Bedford, geography professor and director of the Honors Program, and co-sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Forum.

According to Bedford, the idea of a post-factual world has to first be accepted as a reality, and the phenomenon of Facebook allows people to build their own echo chamber, so they only get exposed to information that does not challenge their own beliefs.

Bedford explained the connection between education and information that is not factual.

“A key piece is critical thinking, that you can and should be able to step back and objectively assess an argument on its merits, and being more knowledgeable about our own biases,” said Bedford.

WSU student Claudemir Lima attended the event for extra credit but shared that it was an interesting discussion and he would attend again.

Lima shared that he learned the way that information is passed on and accessible to the public through the media in writing is used with simple words.

Lima found it appealing how information can be understood by everyone with different levels in education when reading a blog versus an academic paper.

“Education in a post-fact world is very important because if we do not understand what we are reading, then we do not believe it,” said Lima.

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