Science, Fake-News, and the Ivory Tower

This blog post may contain traces of anti-scientism.

I recently came across this blog post about why the author left academic philosophy. While one could definitely criticize that author conflated arguments against academic philosophy as a discipline and academia as an institution, I happily read and enthusiastically nodded through the piece. Also, I found out that metametaphysics is an actual thing (has anyone ever asked or answered the question how many levels of meta-philosophy are reasonable/feasible?).

The author’s conclusion was that she no longer needed the academic system to do philosophy and reach an audience. Everybody who is somewhat familiar with academia, will not doubt this proposal. Academic papers, publications, conferences, and journals are not meant to be read and digested by a layperson. But what does that mean for the Ivory Tower that increasingly faces a society that dismisses expert opinions as fake news or “expert” opinions?

Does academia need to change and leave its ivory tower in order to fight and earn the trust of society again? Time recently reported that vaccine-preventable diseases are coming back globally¹ and the US have a head of the state who actively denies climate change. What are scientists supposed to do when people stop trusting science? While I don’t know the answer, I have a very strong feeling that retreating into the tower won’t be solving these issues.

I have to admit that deep down there is a part of me that is enjoying the recent surge of fake news and mistrust. Even though I am upset and sad about the consequences of that mistrust, the Feyerabendian side of me is finally seeing science treated equally to other dogmatic, belief systems (see [2] for more anti-scientism).

I have started to think about these issues and am hoping to find clues and hints in the philosophy, sociology, and history of science (mostly Hacking, Fleck, and Feyerabend). Questions remain…

  • Why did and do non-scientists trust science?
  • Does science need more activism (i.e., leave the ivory tower)?
  • Can we find the solution within science or do we need to look for help from the outside?
  • (Do I need stop reading Feyerabend?! Is the answer maybe more Žižek?? What should I eat for dinner???)

I would be delighted if some of you have ideas, thoughts, or suggested readings for these kind of questions.

your fellow anti-scientist



[2] Feyerabend, P. (1993). Against method. 1993.

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