FEATURE27 April 2022

Bobby Duffy in seven

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Bobby Duffy is professor of public policy and director of The Policy Institute at King’s College London. Prior to joining King’s, he was managing director of public affairs at Ipsos and global director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. His books include The perils of perception: why we’re wrong about nearly everything and Generations: does when you’re born shape who you are?

black and white portrait of Bobby Duffy

1. Why do people misinterpret societal realities?
The misleading or partial information we get from politicians, media and social media is important – not least because we now have an information system that pushes more of what we already believe at us, through unseen algorithms. We also have all sorts of biases and heuristics in how we think that can lead us astray. Politicians, the media and social media play on these to get more clicks or views, creating a system of delusion.

2. What does the current media focus on culture wars say about society?
We’ve seen an explosion of media discussion of culture wars in the UK. There are two interpretations of why: first, that it’s a cynical top-down political and media tactic to emphasise and capitalise on division, given that conflict sells; or, it’s a reflection of real concern about the speed and nature of culture change in the UK that was revealed and reinforced by the Brexit debate. Culture ...