We Have Never Been Anti-Science: Reflections on Science Wars and Post-Truth

  • Michael Lynch Department of Science & Technology Studies Cornell University
Keywords: anti-science, Trump Administration, symmetry, climate change


This essay addresses the so-called "post-truth" era in which scientific evidence of, for example, climate change, is given little weight compared to more immediate appeals to emotion and belief, and examines the relationship of alleged anti-science and populist irrationality to left- and right-wing political alignments.  It also addresses charges of anti-science that were once leveled at Science and Technology Studies (STS) itself, and particularly in relation to the “symmetrical” posture taken toward scientific controversies.  Recently, "symmetry" in STS has been linked to the media conventions and argumentative strategies that have sustained controversies over climate change and other health and safety concerns.  This essay argues that "symmetry" was originally set up in a circumscribed way to encourage research on controversies, but that it does not amount to a general conclusion to the effect that science is no different from any other system of belief.  Instead, an effort to pursue "symmetrical" research on scientific controversies can document how, far from being displaced from all relevance, scientific authority and its institutional supports are being duplicated along parallel tracks which sustain disputes and delay concerted action. 

Author Biography

Michael Lynch, Department of Science & Technology Studies Cornell University

Michael Lynch is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University.


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08 Jan 2020
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