Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

If you followed up on the reference to Imre Lakatos from last week you'll be right at home reading this article. Here's the main point: the authority of science "derives not from unbiased scientists but from the institutions and norms that structure their work." Or, as I would say, it's defined by the way it arrives at consensus. So, writes Gregory Kaebnick, "Fighting mistrust requires more public engagement with policy, not unqualified deference to experts." Quite right. That's why 'critical thinking' must depend on so much more than just finding sources you can trust. But when Archon Fung says the U.S. public is in a “wide-aperture, low-deference” mood, he has it exactly wrong. From my (admittedly third-party) perspective, the problem is exactly the opposite: people feel encouraged to adopt a narrow perspective and to trust authority. That's what creates fundamental disagreements with no way to resolve them (or even to talk about them).

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 18, 2021 11:36 p.m.