Democracy & Expertise: On Reasons to Mistrust

PERITIA investigator Cathrine Holst from the University of Oslo is featured on the latest  Science for Policy podcast “Democracy & Expertise: On Reasons to Mistrust”. The podcast is produced by SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies), which is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism.

In the conversation with Toby Wardman (SAPEA), Holst discusses reasons to mistrust experts, tensions between expertise and democracy, the complex role of trust in relation to science advice, as well as the challenges posed by populism and pandemics. Have experts gained too much political power? Can we find a balance between “the rule of the people” and “the rule of the knowledgeable”? 

Among other questions in the dicussion, the episode focuses on how we should rely on science to make political decisions, what makes a good science advisor or a good science advice system, what do we do when the evidence is incomplete or controversial, what happens when science advice goes wrong and how can we fix it. “If the influence of experts on public debate means that the vaulues and experiences of different groups are not adequately reflected, we have a problem”, states Holst. She also argues that “populism has made distrust in expertise a larger phenomenon”.

The full conversation (30 minutes) can be listened to on SAPEA’s YouTube channel.