Truth, these days, seems to lie dead as a doornail, half-hidden in the weeds like those bodies you see at the beginning of television murder mysteries. It’s obviously been assaulted, and since its demise, wild animals have been feeding on it.
Not a pretty sight.
For nearly two centuries now, truth was healthy and robust, supported by facts, evidence, clues, observation, experimentation, and the common pool of knowledge that we could all agree upon.
Not only was it healthy, it was respected. Going up against the truth not only left you defeated but enervated and often humiliated.
But that was then and this is now, and truth is dead.
The question is: Who killed the truth?
Jill Lapore takes a crack at answering this question in this new fascinating and professionally-produced podcast The Last Archive. Lapore is a historian at Harvard and staff writer for the New Yorker. She’s a sensational writer and one of the best public intellectuals we have. Here’s the way the podcast describes itself.
In The Last Archive, acclaimed historian Jill Lepore traces the history of evidence, proof, and knowledge, in troubled epistemological times. From archives and libraries to interrogation rooms and evidence vaults, Lepore takes listeners around the country–and across the passage of time–in search of an answer to the question: Who killed truth? Source: The Last Archive
The first episode looks at the murder of a mother of three in Vermont in 1919. A man was convicted of the murder, and Lapore begins with the facts and the evidence — just like many other good-to-great true-crime podcasts.
But with her researcher’s eye and skill, she then turns it into something much more than an interesting murder case. There are reasons, hidden in the record, why the truth never came out.
I have listened to a lot of podcasts, but this one is the best and most engaging one I have heard yet in 2020. It’s definitely worth the time, and I’ll be back as soon as the second episode is available.
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