Can We Win the War on Science? Understanding the Link between Political Populism and Anti-Science Politics

In: Populism
Krisztián Szabados Doctoral School of Political Science, Corvinus University of Budapest

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The rise of populism coincides with a new wave of anti-intellectualism, articulated in the “War on Science.” This paper argues that there is no empirical evidence that the global surge of populism is accompanied by a general anti-science trend. However, there are similarities between the dissemination of scientific falsehoods in mass media and social media and the ways populist politicians use media to their end. First, this paper analyzes the history and the underlying sociological, psychological and cultural causes of the anti-science dispositions. Then, through the case studies of the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Hungary, the attitudes populist leaders exhibit towards science is discussed. Finally, the paper synthesizes the applicable scholarly literature from various disciplines to create an adequate framework for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary communication strategy for the pro-science camp.

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