HPS Brownbag: Martin Carrier


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Agnotological Challenges: How to Capture the Production of Ignorance in Science

Martin Carrier, Universität Bielefeld

Agnotology concerns the creation and preservation of confusion and ignorance. Certain positions are advocated in order to promote economic, political, or metaphysical interests with the result of creating mock controversies or maintaining unjustified agreement. I propose to identify agnotological ploys by  examining the discrepancy between the conclusions suggested by the design of a study and the conclusions actually drawn or intimated. Agnotological ploys are characterized by the unrecognized difference between those issues for which a study is sensitive and those issues that feature in its interpretation. This mechanism of “false advertising” serves to implement agnotological endeavors and helps to identify them without having to invoke the motivations of the relevant agents. Pinpointing such endeavors is a means for weeding out approaches that look fitting at first glance, but are blatantly inappropriate, in fact. Pinpointing agnotological approaches helps transform a pluralist manifold of contrasting accounts into a manageable range of alternatives.