The illusion of doubt
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An optimist and a pessimist each reading Melo-Martin and Intemann’s The Fight Against Doubt will walk away with very different conclusions. That pair of reactions both highlights what the book is about and illustrates the inadequacy of philosophical “solutions” to a public policy problem—the loss of confidence in science.
Science is under attack. At least that is the premise of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Nature 2006) and shared by the authors of The Fight Against Doubt.The attack is not against science itself or the scientific method. Instead, it is against the role “science” seeks to play in public policy debates. Do the “settled” views of scientists have some privileged status when policymakers confront climate change or “anti-vaxxers” (or fluoridation, wolf revival, endangered species, GMOs, etc.)? Many scientists argue yes (after all, we possess “facts” and “knowledge”). Many dissenters argue no (the science is not conclusive, the...
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