Saturday, November 4, 2017

David Roberts: ‘America Is Facing an Epistemic Crisis’

Special investigator Robert Mueller


From Vox:

The U.S. is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who[m] we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

“The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the U.S. conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge (journalism, science, the academy) — the ones society has appointed as referees in matters of factual dispute.
“In their place, the right has created its own parallel set of institutions, most notably its own media ecosystem.
“But the right’s institutions are not of the same kind as the ones they seek to displace. Mainstream scientists and journalists see themselves as beholden to values and standards that transcend party or faction. They try to separate truth from tribal interests and have developed various guild rules and procedures to help do that. They see themselves as neutral arbiters, even if they do not always uphold that ideal in practice.
“The pretense for the conservative revolution was that mainstream institutions had failed in their role as neutral arbiters — that they had been taken over by the left, become agents of the left in referee’s clothing, as it were.
“But the right did not want better neutral arbiters. The institutions it built scarcely made any pretense of transcending faction; they are of and for the right. There is nominal separation of conservative media from conservative politicians, think tanks, and lobbyists, but in practice, they are all part of the conservative movement. They are prosecuting its interests; that is the ur-goal.”