Séminaire du LISIS le 04/04/22 à 14h au LISIS et en visio
Jaron Harambam (Assistant Professor of Participatory AI at the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) : Corona Madness? Why taking conspiracy theories seriously fosters innovation in truth politics
In today’s mediatized information landscape, official truths provided by mainstream epistemic authorities are increasingly challenged by various actors and from diverse pockets of society. Whether we speak about climate change, terrorist attacks or the current corona crisis, various forms of alternative truths and conspiracy theories circulate in both off- and online social networks. At the center of these post-truth dynamics lies a crisis of trust: distrust in our epistemic authorities and in reliable knowledge. In this talk, I will draw on years of ethnographic research in the Dutch conspiracy milieu to elaborate on the question what conspiracy theories are about, who the people are that adhere to those, and how we can understand their contemporary popularity. Instead of the common reaction to restore Truth through debunking, fact-checking, and content-moderation, I explore alternatives to dealing with the contemporary truth wars in ways that are both epistemologically stronger and sociologically more effective. Building from research and experiments with epistemic democracy in the field of science and technology studies, I propose to have “deliberative citizen knowledge platforms”, instead of elite experts groups alone, assess the quality of public information.
Jaron Harambam (Ph.D.) is Assistant Professor of Participatory AI at the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His research deals with conspiracy theories, news and platform politics, and AI (content moderation, search/recommender systems). His book “Contemporary Conspiracy Culture: Truth and Knowledge in an Era of Epistemic Instability” is out at Routledge. He is editor-in-chief of the open-access Dutch-Belgian peer-reviewed journal Tijdschrift Sociologie, and member of the European network of scholars working on conspiracy theories, COST COMPACT.