Coming out of a global health crisis, we must necessarily observe and be aware of the elements that marked this period. One of these elements is the place during these strange weeks of science in our society. Science was featured in the media for better and for worse. The challenges of research with its share of uncertainty and experiment have come to light, while the difficulty remains at this time of research and of doubt. This knowledge nevertheless sometimes seems to be misused or, at least, not to follow a critical and reflective approach. We have thus seen the emergence of a notion of scientific populism, promoting arguments of authority or opinions at the same level as this knowledge. And yet it is by putting this knowledge into perspective that we can meet the challenges by which to create our future.
How do we understand what we know? Where does understanding come from?
Public policies give a place to culture, including scientific culture, fundamental to understanding the functioning and mechanisms of science. The scientific approach has a particularity that leads to an understanding of what is. Then the interpretation and/or use of understanding is free to everyone, and we sometimes see the instrumentalisation. In the end, it is the challenges of research and the development of our understanding that seem to need to be shared. In all this, how can we place a critical mind, discernment between belief and knowledge? Should we still agree on what is true at a given moment and accept this unknown?
Moreover, understanding can also be understood as that which we want to understand. Our brain seems only to accept with difficulty a distortion of what it knows, and we have a tendency to look for confirmation, or to go towards those who reassure us. All these notions are a real challenge because for example, being an activist for a cause sometimes means having to skew (voluntarily or not) understanding.
The Republic is a common good, and so is science, in this sense, the interpenetration, exchange and circulation of ideas and understanding must be evidenced. We can see however that there are constraints to this. They are individual and corporatist. Moving forward on a common path of this accessible understanding is more than just necessary. We have a major challenge.
A podcast produced by Didier Michel in collaboration avec Didier Laval
Featuring: Etienne Klein, French physicist and philosopher of sciences, Barbara Streicher, director of the Austrian network of science centres (Austrian ScienceCenter-Netzwerk), Wiktor Gajewski, Director of Events at Nauki Kopernik Science Centre Nauki Kopernik in Poland and Marzia Mazzonetto, co-founder at Stickydot.