For starters, we must
counter Truth Decay.

Truth Decay is the term we use for the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public life. Truth Decay erodes civil discourse. In government, that leads to dysfunction and more and more often, gridlock, which further erodes public trust in institutions and increases the risk of civic disengagement from the processes that make a democracy work.

That’s why understanding how Truth Decay works and then identifying ways to counter it are so important. The survival of communities, institutions, and entire societies depends on accomplishing this.

Key themes for this priority


Research in this stream will explore the role of cognitive processes and how we can help people reduce the effects of biases on thinking.


This research focus will consider how education can be used to counter Truth Decay among both students and adults who also need new literacy skills to navigate a complex online world.


Research in this area will explore all aspects of the information ecosystem, including online and offline media, and consider ways to mitigate the effects of disinformation.


Research in this stream will consider approaches to overcoming the challenge of polarization and the implications of Truth Decay for democratic institutions.

Representative funding opportunities

The RAND Institute for Countering Truth Decay

A designated institute for countering Truth Decay will enable RAND to blaze a new trail in the study of Truth Decay and its consequences. The Institute will leverage RAND research and analysis to develop actionable solutions and innovative tools to counter Truth Decay, advance a national-level dialogue, and engage diverse stakeholders focused on centering the role of facts in public life and policymaking.

To ensure that RAND research works to find answers and implement solutions to counter Truth Decay, streams of research will focus on

Understanding the problem, its mechanisms, and trends

Innovation in the collection of new data and the development of new tools, methods, and technology

Engagement with diverse stakeholders and communities both in efforts to understand the problem and to develop solutions

Action aimed at implementing responses to Truth Decay that help to mitigate its most harmful effects

All RAND efforts will work toward affecting meaningful change to counter the threat Truth Decay presents to national and individual well-being.

Centers, Labs, and Initiatives

Funding will help stimulate innovation and organize RAND’s efforts in key areas.

The Disinformation and Cognitive Security Program will blend work on information, media, and human cognition to explore ways to tackle disinformation and build resilience at the individual level.

The Truth Decay Survey Program will collect data on a range of Truth Decay–related topics, allowing RAND researchers to track trends in media use, trust in government, and a range of other topics.

The Truth Decay Incubator Lab, a joint effort with the Pardee RAND Graduate School, will develop innovative tools, methods, and technologies to study and help tackle the challenges of Truth Decay.

The Center for the Study of Media will explore models for a new and sustainable media environment that might be free of the pathologies associated with Truth Decay.

The Center for Civic Advancement will use research and analysis to inform the rejuvenation of America’s civic infrastructure.

Programs, Partnerships, and Fellowships

Opportunities to enhance our efforts and extend our reach include

Fact Forum Convenings to bring together leading experts to discuss cutting-edge research and action-oriented responses to counter Truth Decay.

Fact Forward Fellowships to bring journalists, visiting scholars, policymakers, and others to RAND where they would work with RAND research teams and share their knowledge and ideas.

The Truth Decay Education Portal, a one-stop resource for teachers, parents, community leaders, and others seeking resources for civics education, media literacy, and other Truth Decay–related topics.

Community Partnerships to better understand the unique implications of Truth Decay in individual communities and to generate and implement bespoke responses and programs to tackle these challenges.