During glasnost, it seemed like the truth would set everybody free. Dictators appeared so afraid of the truth they had it suppressed. But something drastic has gone wrong. We have access to more information and evidence than ever, but facts seem to have lost their power. There is nothing new in politicians lying, but what seems novel is that they seem to be making a thing out of showing that they don’t care about whether they tell the truth or not. When Vladimir Putin went on international television during his army’s annexation of Crimea and asserted, with a smirk, that there were no Russian soldiers in Crimea, when everyone knew there were, and later, just as casually, admitted that they had been there, he wasn’t so much lying in the sense of trying to replace one reality with another as saying that facts don’t matter. Similarly the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is famous for having no discernible notion of what truth or facts are, yet this has in no way been a barrier to his success. According to the fact-checking agency PolitiFact, 76 per cent of his statements in the 2016 presidential election were ‘mostly false’ or down-right untrue, compared to 27 per cent for his rival. He still won.

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" but facts seem to have lost their power. "

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