It’s not surprising that at a time when it’s hard to trust Facebook, the president and Congress that truths we once found self-evident have given way to disbelief. Many Americans have discarded once taken-for-granted beliefs in democracy, science, God, hard work, reputable information, patriotism, marriage and good manners. Some of these currents cross class, age and party lines, although they are especially common among younger Americans, the less educated and those on the political extremes.
Let’s be clear: This is not disagreement (“you’re wrong”); it is disbelief (“it’s not true”). Today’s Age of Disbelief is not unique to the United States, but it is particularly troubling in a nation long characterized by its Lockean optimism, belief in reason and faith in institutions.
What are the contours and dimensions of this disbelief? Who are the disbelievers and where did their disbelief come from? What does it mean for American society and politics? And what can be done about it?
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