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Understanding Emotions in Post-Factual Politics

Negotiating Truth

Anna Durnová

Post-factual politics has united scientists and civil society in a public defence of truth, however, the battle may already have been lost to a binarity of facts and emotions. Analysing and comparing scientists’ protests against the Trump presidency with famous scientific controversies in modern medicine, this innovative book redefines truth as a negotiation in public discourse between the interplay of values, beliefs and facts. It shows that in order to understand post-factual politics we must unveil emotion’s role in knowledge-making.
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Chapter 3: The partisans of truth

Anna Durnová

Extract

Partisanship, the second characteristics of truth’s scenography, is a strategy to undermine both truth and science. It has been made possible by the language of neutralization, which has developed as the leading discursive register of science and expertise. Portrayed as detached from emotions, scientists have coproduced a public discourse on science as a neutral enterprise without socio-political consequences. Because of their embrace of this idolatry of neutral science, modern governments - in their efforts to promote debates on facts and data - have referenced emotions as synonymous to partisanship and thus as corrupting to scientific inquiry. However, all knowledge is partisan to the extent that it becomes necessarily embedded in the socio-political order it reacts to, and it coproduces through the knowledge it delivers. The chapter discusses the conflict around the scientists’ participation in the March for Science and focuses on narratives and discourses through which partisanship is placed in the public discourse on science.

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