Water and fire: science between opposites
Polarisation seems to have increased considerably in the Netherlands in recent years and in that context researchers are increasingly expected to choose between two extreme positions. But science exists by the grace of doubt, advancing insight and nuance. So is there any point in getting involved in an explosive debate? Or can science actually influence the course of the debate? This issue of Onderzoek explores the role of science amid rising social tensions.
Photos: Jessica Nap
Societal wind chill factor
Online threats, a growing distrust of science ... the social feeling temperature has clearly begun to drop. Impoverishment, inflation and war provide new breeding grounds for further polarization.
How do you move as a scientist in a highly polarized field? And what can you do to move the conversation forward? Two scientists tell from their personal experience how they have become wise through trial and error.
‘I sometimes wonder: who benefits from this kind of polarisation?’
Many public debates are conducted with daggers drawn. Discussions about fireworks, the climate and the Dutch tradition of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) quickly disintegrate into mud-slinging, especially online. Three researchers talk about the way in which the debate takes place within their own research field and their role in this.
Embrace the nuance
‘You should accept an invitation to a polarised debate, but you do not have to conform to that style’, says futures researcher Rudy van Belkom. ‘Embrace nuance as a strength and open up the debate with critical questions.’
The stories about Onderzoek
In the magazine, you find stories about a science theme and stories about research. Read those stories here: