Search results

How we avoid insight from others
Author: Mikael Klintman

Why do people and groups ignore, deny and resist knowledge about society’s many problems? In a world of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’, and ‘fact resistance’ that some believe could be remedied by ‘factfulness’ or ‘enlightenment’, the question has never been more pressing. Following years of ideologically polarised debates on this topic, the book seeks to further advance our understanding of the phenomenon of knowledge resistance by integrating insights from the social, economic, and evolutionary sciences. In current debates and studies, several vital factors are downplayed: that all people and institutions – even science – occasionally resist knowledge while calling their resistance ‘scepticism’, that knowledge resistance is not always irrational, that facts don’t equal truth, and that knowledge claims continuously need to be re-evaluated. Ignoring such key factors undermines the chances of reducing problematic knowledge resistance. Examples used in the book include controversies over climate change, the roots of violence, gender roles, religion, child-rearing, vaccination, genetically modified food, and artificial intelligence. In addition to accessible discussion of the scholarly literature and media sources, in-depth interviews with other renowned human scientists in the UK about their perspectives on knowledge resistance contribute to understanding this intriguing phenomenon. Moreover, the author shares his personal experiences of cultural clashes between different knowledge claims. The book is written for the educated public, students, and scholars interested in how people and groups handle knowledge controversies, and how such disputes can be resolved in the service of better managing the urgent social, environmental, and health-related problems of today.

Atheism, Race, and Civilization, 1850–1914

Race in a godless world is the first historical analysis of the racial views of atheists and freethinkers. It centers on Britain and the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when a popular atheist movement emerged and skepticism about the truth of Christianity became widespread, and when scientific racism developed and Western countries colonized much of the globe. The book covers racial and evolutionary science, imperialism in Africa and Asia, slavery and segregation in the United States, debates over immigration, and racial prejudice in theory and practice. The book’s central argument is that there was a constant tension throughout the period between, on the one hand, white atheists’ general acceptance that white, western civilization represented the pinnacle of human progress, and, on the other, their knowledge that these civilizations were so closely intertwined with Christianity. This led to a profound ambivalence about issues of racial and civilizational superiority. At times, white atheists assented to scientific racism and hierarchical conceptions of civilization; at others, they denounced racial prejudice and spoke favourably of non-white, non-western civilizations. As secularization continues and atheists move from the periphery to the mainstream, the book concludes by asking whether this pattern of ambivalence will continue in the future.

Fern Elsdon-Baker

of either science or religion. We have become so accustomed to this framing of the relationship between evolutionary science and religion that it is now a commonly accepted norm within media or scholarly representation of evolutionary theory. Routinely, these accounts of anti-evolutionary stances tend to be reductionist and rarely look beyond polarised epistemic extremes. As Toumey notes: It is common for enemies of creationism to dismiss it as a simple exercise in Biblical inerrancy. Human evolution faces opposition supposedly because it contradicts Genesis 1

in Science and the politics of openness
Mikael Klintman

individuals and groups resist the knowledge claims of other groups, we first need to address an even more fundamental issue – that of why humanity has survived and, as a species, reproduced so successfully since its dawn, with few signs of stopping. This is a question asked by the evolutionary sciences, including, for instance, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary anthropology. Evolutionary scientists find a narrower issue particularly interesting: why did humans evolve, survive, and – as a species – reproduce so successfully during the 99.5 per cent of our history as

in Knowledge resistance
Abstract only
Mikael Klintman

’s violence or control over women. 12 Yet, fighting presupposes recognising. Thus, fighting the expressions of those traits becomes impossible if we – like some of the sociologists in the study described above – resist insights from evolutionary science. It isn’t a proven fact in the strictest sense that jealousy decreases the risk of having one’s partner cheat. Nor is it a proven fact that jealousy increases the reproductive chances of the jealous person. No one has been able to divide thousands of generations of hominids based on their degree of jealousy. It has not been

in Knowledge resistance
David Amigoni

, the deeply uneasy opening of another. The field of Victorian literature and science studies has in its own illustrious past arguably been dominated by the heavyweights of literature and evolutionary science in the canonical mid-Victorian period, c.1850–80: George Eliot, the early Thomas Hardy, Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley. Eliot and Hardy were writers who were self-consciously literate consumers of Victorian scientific writing and Gillian Beer, in Darwin’s Plots (1983), has been the most authoritative

in Interventions
Abstract only
McEwan and the ‘third culture’
Dominic Head

implications for the novel in general, not just for McEwan – in the way that it imports revolutionary scientific ideas that might, theoretically, shake up the relationship between time and space for writers and readers of narrative fiction; but the shake up, perhaps, is theoretical rather than fully delivered, and may have a minimal impact on a critical reading. The treatment of evolutionary science is still more equivocal, as my discussion of Enduring Love suggests. The article that McEwan reprints in the collection of evolutionary literary analyses makes a number of cogent

in Ian McEwan
Open Access (free)
Brigitte Nerlich, Sarah Hartley, Sujatha Raman, and Alexander Thomas T. Smith

towards a creationist view of life on earth. She makes a plea for researchers to not posit as a ‘fact’ a presumed clash between scientific and religious world views, cautioning against assuming that the latter is always a monstrous public in conflict with science, and to explore public perceptions of evolutionary science and religion without either being overshadowed by this prejudice. The second chapter, by David Kirby and Amy Chambers, is a fascinating exploration of the struggle between film-makers and religious communities over shaping public views of science

in Science and the politics of openness
Mikael Klintman

The view that it’s religion – not evolutionary science – that is counter-intuitive is found among many social thinkers that identify themselves as agnostic or atheist. J. L. Mackie, a leading philosopher who criticises religion from the perspective of logic, gave one of his books the telling title The Miracle of Theism . Daniel Dennett, another philosopher who has been called one of new atheism’s ‘four horsemen’, has also indicated how absurdly counter-intuitive he thinks that religious belief is. In an interview, Dennett told the journalist about religious friends

in Knowledge resistance
Rob Boddice

. Ekman is the heir to a certain interpretation of Darwinian emotions. The heavy-handed editorialising was done with a mind to correcting Darwin, bringing him up to date, as it were, with the state of the art as Ekman saw it. It was a stunning move that emphasised the most reputable of all intellectual foundations for Ekman’s own work, while at the same time denying the possibility of a history of the emotions as we have come to know it. Certainly, the evolutionary science would permit a historical view, but only over the extremely long term; a term so long, in fact, as

in The history of emotions