Scientific Knowledge and Expertise in a “Post-Fact” Era

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30-19:20
RC23 Sociology of Science and Technology (host committee)

Language: English

Have we entered a “post-fact” era? While both scientific controversy and the manufactured politics of “denial” (e.g., of climate change) have been with us for a long time, we seem to have entered a new phase of emotive politics, exemplified by the contentious Brexit referendum and the divisive U.S. presidential election, in which “lies” supersede “fact checks” and personal beliefs matter more than extrinsic evidence or scientific consensus. The session aims to explore the causes, consequences, and dynamics of such denial through a focus on both the processes of knowledge production /contestation and dynamics affecting the culture as a whole . What techniques are being used, among counterpublics, citizen scientists, and lay audiences, to undercut traditionally expert knowledge? What forms of thinking, knowing, and imagining are offered in their place? What are the modes of perception that render science politically (in)sensitive, that destabilize its authority, that strategically—even mockingly—defang it? Is this destabilization purely a product of new techniques intentionally designed to undercut it or have these techniques emerged as adaptations to changes in the general public and the status they accord to “facts”, “knowledge”, and “expertise” relative to “feelings” and an emotionally based personal sense of certainty? Papers addressing these issues either theoretically or empirically are welcome.
Session Organizer:
Gary BOWDEN, University of New Brunswick, Canada
Oral Presentations
“Contingency-Based Expertise” in the Case of Olive Quick Decline Syndrome in Apulia
Christian COLELLA, Università Milano-Bicocca, Italy; Roberto CARRADORE, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Vaccines: Hard or Soft Facts?
Paola BORGNA, University of Turin (Italy), Italy