Truth decay: Exploring the diminishing role of facts and analysis



22 August 2018


Business School Refectory


Public forum



There is increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts in both Australia and the United States. While this trend is not unprecedented in history, the level of disagreement over objective facts and the declining trust in formerly respected sources of facts is a new phenomenon.

The non-partisan RAND Corporation is currently studying “truth decay” — the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life.

RAND's President and CEO Michael Rich – whose report on truth decay was on former US President Barack Obama's summer reading list – joined United States Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman, the ABC's John Barron and one of the leaders of the University of Sydney's Post Truth Initiative, Nick Enfield and Lisa Bero for a panel looking at truth decay.

This event was jointly presented by the USSC and RAND Australia


  • Michael D. Rich
    Michael D. Rich

    Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation.

  • Professor Simon Jackman
    Professor Simon Jackman

    Professor Simon Jackman was Chief Executive Officer of the United States Studies Centre from April 2016 to May 2022. Between 1996 and 2016, he was a Professor of Political Science and Statistics at Stanford University. Jackman's teaching and research centres on public opinion, election campaigns, political participation, and electoral systems with special emphasis on American and Australian politics.

  • John Barron
    John Barron
    Journalist and broadcaster, ABC

    John Barron was previously an Honorary Associate at the US Studies Centre. He is anchor of “Planet America” on ABC-TV and author of the book “Vote For Me” about the 2008 Presidential campaign.

  • Nick  Enfield
    Nick Enfield

    Professor Nick Enfield is professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney and director of the Sydney Social Science and Humanities Advanced Research Centre. He is head of a Research Excellence Initiative on The Crisis of Post-Truth Discourse.

  • Lisa Bero
    Lisa Bero

    Professor Lisa Bero is a pharmacologist and researcher in evidence-based health care who is internationally renowned for her studies on the integrity of clinical and basic research evidence that is used to influence health policy, and the manner in which evidence is communicated to key groups such as physicians, policy-makers, journalists and the community.