FIVE: Communicating across Worldviews

This chapter argues that viewing the crisis of expertise in terms of a battle between “expertises,” grounded in faith-like commitments, will best serve the goals of communication, persuasion, and understanding in policy disputes in a divided nation. Since conflicting expert communities have specialized languages and values that, respectively, unite and distinguish each community, the solution to the crisis of expertise involves persuasive communication between worldviews. Communication is made possible by: (1) self-awareness that we are all ideological; (2) modesty about the science in which one believes (that is, recognizing uncertainties); and (3) a common anchor in some level of scientific data and method (hence, my argument and solution do not apply to ordinary “culture war” controversies, such as who won the 2020 US presidential election). That analysis finds support in the literature associated with science communication theory and conflict resolution in policy disputes. However, this chapter’s approach differs from similar analyses by scholars in this field who, like Naomi Oreskes, emphasize a diversity of viewpoints as a key to trustworthy science and, like Frank Fischer, emphasize citizen science and deliberative collaboration in policy arguments.

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