The summer of 2016: what do you make of it?
If the summer of 2016 proved anything, it’s that debate matters. The EU referendum was a once in a generation opportunity for British voters to decide the future of the country, and there was much anxiety when Michael Gove claimed that people had “had enough of experts”.
Where does that leave factcheckers? We tap into a network of expert research every day to check the facts for our readers. The results were taken up everywhere from Good Morning Britain and 5 Live to Mumsnet and the FT, as well as the millions of people who watched our videos on Facebook or read fullfact.org in the run up to the vote.
Factchecking got a grilling on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze last night. Our Director Will Moy appeared as a witness to the formidable panel including Michael Buerk, Giles Fraser, Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, and Matthew Taylor.
They asked Will about trust in politics, trust in experts, and even trust in automated factchecking. The point that came up again and again was that facts don’t make decisions, people do. Sometimes there can be no right or wrong answer to political questions, but often the answers can be judgements rooted in reality.
Facts are important for informing people’s decisions, fostering a healthy scepticism of claims and campaigns, and empowering people to demand better quality public debate. As Will warns on the show, “We shouldn’t, just because the role of facts can be overplayed, decide that they have no role.”
You can listen to the episode in full here.