224 Between blind faith and denial: Finding a productive approach to merging policy, science, and technology
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224 Between blind faith and denial: Finding a productive approach to merging policy, science, and technology

With a new administration taking power in Washington, many people who had been alarmed by partisan attacks on science and expertise breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that science would be restored to its rightful place in policymaking. But what is that rightful place? Harvard Kennedy School Professor Sheila Jasanoff says that’s a more complex question than most of us might think. Jasanoff has pioneered the field of Science, Technology, and Society studies — also known as STS. It’s an academic discipline that explores the complex interplay between how science and technology affect our society and how societal forces like politics, commerce, and human nature can shape the pursuit of scientific inquiry and technological development. While rejecting science has serious consequences, scientists are also human, Jasanoff says, and simple faith in experts “is every bit as unwarranted as faith in angels.” She tells PolicyCast host Thoko Moyo that achieving a balance — an informed society that’s appropriately skeptical and a scientific community that’s responsive to skepticism and human considerations — is key with so many complex challenges like pandemics and climate change facing our world today.

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