Namaste to my fellow evaluators in the United States and worldwide. My name is Ichhya Pant and I am a Doctoral Candidate and Research Scientist at the GWU School of Public Health. As I write my first ever AEA365 blog post, I can’t help but reflect on the monumental year we just experienced. Much has been written and said about what makes 2020 monumental –
- millions of lives lost globally
- projected contraction of the global economy by 2.2%
- unprecedented suffering and collective trauma and grief worldwide
- approximately 2.9 billion humans being placed on lockdowns
- twin pandemic of racism and COVID-19 laying bare systemic oppression, injustice, and inequities otherwise rendered invisible or unremarkable in the pre-COVID19 era
- the physical manifestation of intangible concepts such as inter-connectedness when faced with an infectious border-blind virus invisible to the naked eye
- the sheer uncertainty tied to when we can return to some semblance of the bare necessities (haircuts or holidays with family and friends) and small pleasures (hugs, handshakes, or huddles) taken for granted in our pre-COVID19 lives
- the unrelenting shadow of an infodemic distorting collective sensemaking and consensus on what passes off as facts causing mass public confusion and ire
In this blog post, I’d like to elaborate on the first post-truth pandemic. “Fake news” became a colloquial term in the past 5 years, especially more once it transformed into a full-blown crisis triggered infodemic.
The boundaries between “fake news” and accurate information have become increasingly blurrier. Even world leaders and highly trained professionals are no longer immune to these blurred lines leading to fiery interdisciplinary debates and frustration over epistemic trespassing. The catch-22 here though is that an antidote to “fake news” requires a multi-disciplinary effort, which leads me to wonder about what evaluators and the field of evaluation might have to offer towards this movement.
Caroline Heider, Former Director General, Evaluation, World Bank Group states:
Dr. Thomas Schwandt opines on the emergence of post-normal evaluation and offers five intimations of post-normal evaluation – 1) resilience thinking as a rationality of governing, 2) politics returning to the people, 3) recovery of practical reasoning, 4) co-production, and 5) ethical accountability.
Dr. Zenda Ofir details ten vital evaluator competencies for the post-normal evaluation era:
Source: https://medium.com/work-futures/ 1
Marco Segone, Director of Evaluation at UNFPA states:
While these hot tips are a great start to mapping out where evaluators, evaluation, technology, and “fake news” intersect, there is potentially so much more the field can contribute to flatten the infodemic. For starters, I ask:
How can we critically evaluate – facts versus falsehoods; technologies, interventions and policies to counter falsehoods, their harms, and their unintended consequences; the types of harms falsehoods pose to society-at-large, especially disproportionate harm towards certain groups (e.g. elderly, women and immigrants)?
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.