Fact and Fiction, Trust and Distrust

2nd TSHD Digital Humanities Symposium

June 29 & 30, 2022

How do we calibrate or modulate our (dis)trust when it comes to sources of information, given limited resources of time and attention? How do we decide what sources and voices to trust in our present media landscape, where an unprecedented number of resources for (mis)information and entertainment is available?  Why do people with different worldviews interpret the same data differently, or have altogether different views on what constitutes factual information in the first place?  

In our ‘post-truth age’, public opinion appears less influenced by objective facts and more by personal beliefs. Companies, media, and influencers enter into competition for capturing and retaining our attention.  In both online and offline media, we see a blurring of the lines between factual and fictional discourse.  Online echo chambers and algorithmic biases lead to a pervasive influence of confirmation bias and filter bubbles.

Increasing political polarization and the mainstreaming of conspiracy thought amount to a deep-seated distrust of groups outside of the own community, and of things as they seem. In journalism, fact checking is often posed as an objective remedy to this fake news crisis, while traditional gatekeepers like mainstream journalistic media, experts, and scientists have lost some of their standing. The question of truth seems to increasingly be replaced by the question ‘who tells the most compelling story?’

This two-day symposium brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, including Philosophy, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Cultural, Literary and Media Studies, Communication and Information Sciences, and Cognitive Science, to engage in a cross-disciplinary dialogue on these matters. The event includes a range of talks as well as a couple of interactive workshops on key methodological tools for Digital Humanities research.

With this event, we aim to answer such questions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We invite speakers to present on a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, the cognitive (e.g., studies of beliefs and bias), arts and media (e.g., truth and fiction in literature, television and film, or news websites), philosophical (e.g., the ontology and semantics of fact and fiction), Artificial Intelligence (e.g., virtual reality; algorithmic creativity; automatic analyses of discourse to trace polarization, fake news, content featuring conspiracy theories and others) and  communication and information studies (e.g., online misinformation; the role of truth-finding on social media).

This two-day, hybrid symposium—part on-site at the campus of Tilburg University, part online—brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, including Philosophy, Culture Studies, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Cultural, Literary and Media Studies, Communication and Information Sciences, and Cognitive Science, to engage in a cross-disciplinary dialogue on these matters.

Keynote speakers: 

Emar Maier (University of Groningen) 

Miriam Metzger (UC Santa Barbara) 

Martina Raponi (Willem de Kooning Academy) 

Dirk Hovy (Bocconi University)

This symposium is organized by Inge van de Ven (TSHD, Department of Culture Studies), Sander Verhaegh (TSHD, Department of Philosophy), Giovanni Cassani (TSHD, Department of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence), Frédéric Tomas (TSHD, Department of Communication and Cognition), assisted by Rebecca de Jongh (TSHD, Education Support Team). The event is funded by the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) Tilburg University, the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis, and the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies

Digital Humanities Tilburg