giovedì 1 dicembre 2016

SCIECONS 2016 is over. And it's been a success!

After three days of intense work, the first edition of SCIECONS - Science and Conspiracy is over.

I must say that the outcome has exceeded our expectations: despite being at the first edition, the conference and the workshop have seen a really wide variety of innovative proposals and the emergence of a quite exciting debate, thanks especially to the exceptionally high competence and cleverness of our guests from all over Europe and Australasia and to their determination and eagerness to put their ideas to test and confront the opinion of the others, while continuing to remain open to new suggestions and proposals coming from different, at times unexpected, directions. The topic of the relationship between science and conspiracy has been analyzed under multiple, often innovative, points of view.

The two souls of the conference have fruitfully and repeatedly crossed each other: on one part the philosophical reflection on conspiracy theories per se, on the other part the problem of scientific denialism. The two problems have shown multiple sites of contact. During the debates following the talks, the shape of a possible unified area of study to come, which could lie at the intersection between philosophy of conspiracy theories proper and a reflection on scientific denialism (a reflection not only pertaining to philosophy of science but also to cognitive science, brought on empirically or even as a form of "experimental" or "computational" philosophy which puts to philosophical use scientific data and computational models) has began to show itself.

Awareness that the two questions of conspiracy theory and public trust in science are not disjoint has been increased by the SCIECONS event. Multiple metaphysical, biology and evolution-related, legal, political, social and ethical issues have also been highlighted in relation to these more general problems, some of these issues apparently bearing on the very bases of democracy and personal freedom, with possible political outcomes.

Our goal now is to prevent all those fruitful contents from getting lost in time. We will set up some devices (a mailing list, a forum, social media, this same blog) in order to keep the discussion and the proposals alive and to foster new ideas.

Thanks a lot to all the participants to SCIECONS 2016 and stay tuned for some news.

giovedì 17 novembre 2016

Announcing SCIECONS - Science and Conspiracy. An International conference at the University of Padova

This first post to announce the forthcoming SCIECONS conference and workshop at the University of Padova, Italy, to be held on November 28, 29 and 30, 2016.

SCIECONS - Science and Conspiracy
Dealing with Scientific Denialism, Distrust of Expertise and Conspiracy Theories

University of Padova, Padova, Italy. November 28-30, 2016

The programhere

About the scope and aims of the conference

As you know, there is already some ongoing research on conspiracy theories, on the relations between science and democracy, on rational argumentation and the social medias, as well as on scientific denialism and the role of scientific expertise. Studies on these subjects are conducted from a wide range of perspectives: philosophical, sociological, anthropological, and psychological.

Now, while there is a more or less consolidated literature on conspiracy theories per se, it seems to us that the relationship between conspiracy theories and questions regarding scientific expertise has not been thoroughly investigated. Yet there is an intrinsic link, it can be argued, between denialism, conspiracy theories and the consideration of scientific expertise, and this intersection area seems a promising object of study, possibly well worth a dedicated conference. Denialism is the negation of an official explanation operated by casting on this official version the suspect of it being the result of a conspiracy, and it inherently implies the allegation, on the part of the deniers, of a conspiracy committed by official and mainstream organisations in order to undermine the deniers’ credibility. Conspiracy theorizing, in turn, implies the necessity of doubting the reliability of expertise, and of doubting in general the reliability of official social sources of information, such as institutions and science.

We think that this intersection between questions regarding conspiracy theories, denialism, and scientific expertise is an area which deserves to be brought into focus, and this is precisely the goal of the SCIECONS event. The literature networks and research lines about conspiracy proper and about denialism and expertise seem at the moment quite disjoint. Our aim is that of making the intersections between them emerge. The very point of the conference resides in letting scholars from these research lines meet and confront in order to bring out these common points between research on conspiracy theories, on scientific expertise, and on denialism.

To this regard, we have noticed a lot of value in disparate researches conducted by several European scholars in different contexts and different disciplines. Our aim has been to bring them to an interdisciplinary common event where free discussion and valuable intellectual exchanges can take place, with the hope to possibly give birth to future European collaborations and projects. And we hope that this can be only the first of a series of conferences on the subject.

The Steering committee of SCIECONS: Pierdaniele Giaretta, Fabio Grigenti,  Philippe Huneman, Anouk Barberousse, Marion Vorms, Luca Rivelli