America’s troubled relationship with facts is putting national security at risk. A recent RAND paper warned that “Truth Decay”—the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public life—could weaken our military, costs us credibility with our allies, and calls into question our ability to respond to the next big crisis.

Experts from across RAND described Truth Decay as a “huge vulnerability,” an “obvious one,” “a strong weapon” in the hands of our adversaries. Yet the full extent of the damage we are doing to ourselves is only just beginning to come into focus.

“We’re stuck in a cycle,” said Caitlin McCulloch, an associate political scientist at RAND who coauthored the paper. “Polarization is feeding into Truth Decay, Truth Decay is feeding into polarization, and round and round we go. The harm that cycle is doing to our national security has not been fully explored.”

Truth Decay is more than just a fact-free rant on cable television or a conspiracy theory bouncing around social media. RAND uses the term to describe a society pulling apart over basic facts, with opinion too […]

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