Why public dismissal of nutrition science makes sense: Post-truth, public accountability and dietary credibility

Bart Penders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to critically engage with societal origins of public (dis)trust and public credibility of nutrition science and offer suggestions for addressing its public dismissal. Design/methodology/approach This viewpoint presents a conceptual analysis of public dismissal of nutrition science, drawing together perspectives on the relationships between science and society from the history, sociology and philosophy of science. Findings The origin of trust amongst scientists relies is actively tied to their social and moral status and science as a cultural activity is inextricably linked to institutions of power. Accordingly, trust in science relies heavily on public perceptions of those institutions, the ways in which citizens feel represented by them, and to what extent citizens consider these institutions to be held accountable. Ignoring this origin leads to expectations of science and scientists they cannot live up to and inevitable disappointment in those holding such expectations. Social implications Managing responsible expectations asks that we first dismiss dominant portrayals of science as pure, neutral, value-free and fuelled by curiosity. Second, we should pursue a reorganisation of science, favouring social inclusiveness over scientific exceptionalism. Originality/value Post-truth dynamics are a source of concern in the dissemination of nutrition science. Rather than dismissing it as a consequence of public ignorance, a comprehensive engagement with post-truth arguments allows a constructive repositioning of nutrition science organisation and communication. It asks that we design research programmes and studies differently, incorporate different voices. Above all else, it asks humility of researchers and tolerant approaches to other perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1964
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Food Journal
Volume120
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Credibility
  • Post-truth
  • CONVERGENCE RESEARCH
  • SOCIETY SERIES
  • HEALTH
  • PARTICIPATION
  • TECHNOLOGIES
  • HIERARCHIES
  • GOVERNANCE
  • ENGAGEMENT
  • HUMILITY
  • POLICY

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