Wicked Problems in a Post-truth Political Economy: A Dilemma for Knowledge Translation

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 10 (280) (2023)
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The discipline of knowledge translation (KT) emerged as a way of systematically understanding and addressing the challenges of applying health and medical research in practice. In light of ongoing and emerging critique of KT from the medical humanities and social sciences disciplines, KT researchers have become increasingly aware of the complexity of the translational process, particularly the significance of culture, tradition and values in how scientific evidence is understood and received, and thus increasingly receptive to pluralistic notions of knowledge. Hence, there is now an emerging view of KT as a highly complex, dynamic, and integrated sociological phenomenon, which neither assumes nor creates knowledge hierarchies and neither prescribes nor privileges scientific evidence. Such a view, however, does not guarantee that scientific evidence will be applied in practice and thus poses a significant dilemma for KT regarding its status as a scientific and practice-oriented discipline, particularly within the current sociopolitical climate. Therefore, in response to the ongoing and emerging critique of KT, we argue that KT must provide scope for relevant scientific evidence to occupy an appropriate position of epistemic primacy in public discourse. Such a view is not intended to uphold the privileged status of science nor affirm the “scientific logos” per se. It is proffered as a counterbalance to powerful social, cultural, political and market forces that are able to challenge scientific evidence and promote disinformation to the detriment of democratic outcomes and the public good.

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Matthew Tieu
Flinders University

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