Is there a human right to truth?
When truth is defined as trustworthy information that people use to make important decisions about their lives, it is arguably as fundamental to human existence as air, water, food, and shelter. Yet, the pervasive global spread of misinformation and disinformation has resulted in falsehoods being passed off as truth and inconvenient facts being derided as fake news. The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy recently held its first in-person conference since the beginning of the pandemic, convening a multidisciplinary cast of scholars from the Kennedy School and beyond to offer perspectives on whether there is “a right to truth.” Speakers included Professors Mathias Risse, director of the Carr Center, and Sheila Jasanoff, who leads Harvard’s Science, Technology and Society Program. Joan Donovan, director of the Technology and Social Change Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said, “It’s not just that people need information to make political decisions; people need robust access to knowledge, which is different from information, in order to live their lives.”