Making sense of facts – and alternative facts

New book offers an overarching system to make sense of post-truth phenomenon not only in politics but also in a range of areas

GN Bureau | September 24, 2021


#Politics   #information   #technology   #post-truth  


The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World
By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan
HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599

Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of ‘Orwell’s Problem’: the problem of explaining how people can know so little even when the evidence is before their very eyes. From Orwell’s time to ours, it’s a full circle. On one hand, there has been an explosive rise in news consumption, along with the growth of the new media. On the other hand, people seem to know less and less. Social media has complicated the problem. Paradoxically, it’s no longer about facts: people seem to believe in what they want to believe in, creating “alternative facts”.

After Trump and Brexit, there has been a surfeit of books in the West on the phenomenon of post-truth, but not many in India. ‘The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World’, by Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan not only fills the gap, it has a more ambitious scope and a matching depth too.  

Singh, who had a stint in politics as a researcher with the BJP, is a data analyst, with a best-seller, ‘How to Win an Indian Election’ (2019) to his credit. This time, he has teamed up with Venkatanarayanan who is cyber security and privacy researcher. The team brings their varied experience to a vast range of issues beyond the manipulation of the voter’s mind by political parties – how cyber criminals, godmen, intelligence agencies and even nation-states indulge in creating alternative realities, all in their quest for power and influence.

For a conscientious citizen in the digital age, the first duty is to stick to truth, even if it has become extremely difficult to do so, given the tricks and tactics they employ, as illustrated in this book with detailed case studies. Yet, that citizen will find enough help to maintain sanity, question implanted narratives and strengthen democratic impulses.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana extended for three more months

In pursuance of the pro-people announcement made by the prime minister in 2021 and successful implementation of additional food security under PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, the union cabinet has approved its extension for a further period of three months, from October to December 2022. At a ti

A great literary feast (that could’ve been even more sumptuous)

A Case of Indian Marvels: Dazzling Stories from the Country’s Finest Writers Edited by David Davidar Aleph, 390 pages, Rs 999 Change is the only constant, and India has always been doing so. Yet, after independence, if there was a year when the p

Govt e-Marketplace sellers report more business

“My volume of business has increased ever since I registered on GeM (Government e-Marketplace) in 2017. Earlier, I could supply items only in the vicinity of my shop in Fort area and only within Mumbai. Now, I ship my products all over the country! I have tied up with India Post and three private cou

How the Hindi Newspaper Business Changed

The Journey of Hindi Language Journalism in India: From Raj to Swaraj and Beyond By Mrinal Pande Orient BlackSwan, 188 pages, Rs 1,195.00 In India, the English-language media is considered the ‘national media’, while the language press

More reforms in telecom sector in offing: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The telecom sector in the country will witness more reforms in the coming years, minister for communications, electronics & IT and railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has said. He also asserted that the industry too will have to do its bit and reciprocate by improving quality of service significantly.

Left-wing extremism: challenges and response

Left-wing extremism is in existence right from India’s independence, but it became prominent in 1967 under the name of Naxalism. The nomenclature of this movement has changed from time to time and place to place depending upon the leadership. Before 2014 more than 15 states were facing this problem w

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter