Truth (and Lies) in Our Time

Truth, it appears, is being recalibrated with the appearance of new forms of untruth—post-truth, deep fakes, and alternate facts. Truth claims are being challenged in every sphere of public life. Political speech is queried for its veracity. Medical knowledge is contested by consumers, as witnessed in the recent vaccine controversies. In the market, financial transactions and corporate accountings face charges of misrepresentation and obfuscation. Memoirs and nonfiction works are searched for factual infidelities. Across the sciences, extensive sets of experimental data are alleged to be nonreproducible. Adding to the perplexity, social media stymie the detection of truth with their ever-advancing technologies of fakes and digital doubles.

The pervasiveness of truth’s undoing led Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller to question whether “lying and mistrust have already permeated the entire culture.” This questioning of truth engenders apprehension of lies and, in turn, has invited closer scrutiny of the boundary between truth-telling and lying. When truth is so unsteadied, trust gives way to troubling uncertainties in both public and private life. 

The 2021 Shasha Seminar, Truth (and Lies) in Our Time, makes space for participants to explore these uncertainties, asking: What are truth and lies? Is what we have taken to constitute truth changing? Eroding? Or blurred by an escalation of lies and deceptions? If so, then what are the consequences of new forms of truth? And how can we, in our public and private lives, assess the veracity of the information we encounter?

Zoom links and schedule available here



Please contact Lisa Sacks ( with questions.