pp 1–5 | Cite as

The illusion of doubt

Inmaculada de Melo-Martin and Kristen Intemann: The fight against doubt: how to bridge the gap between scientists and the public. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, ix+214pp, £ 25.99 HB
  • Michael LissackEmail author
Book Review


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...



  1. Boswell, E. 2018. Book by MSU’s Intemann bridges gap between scientists and public. Accessed 30 July 2019.
  2. Funk, C. 2017. Mixed messages about public trust in science. Accessed 30 July 2019.
  3. Lipman, B. 2009. Why is language vague? Accessed 30 July 2019.
  4. Nature. 2006. Science under attack. 439:891.Google Scholar
  5. Pew Research Center. 2019b. Trust and mistrust in Americans’ views of scientific experts. Accessed 2 Aug 2019.
  6. Rutjiens, B. 2018. What makes people distrust science? Surprisingly, not politics. (summarizing Rutjiens et al. 2018). Accessed 30 July 2019.
  7. Rutjens, B., et al. 2018. Attitudes towards science. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 57: 125–165.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Society for CyberneticsMarbleheadUSA
  2. 2.Tongji UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations