Rethinking Evidence in the Time of Pandemics | Engebretsen & Baker

15:00 - 17:00 UK Time | 26 September 2022

We welcome a panel of experts to discuss the recently published book Rethinking Evidence in the Time of Pandemics: Scientific vs Narrative Rationality and Medical Knowledge Practices (Cambridge University Press, 2022) by Eivind Engebretsen and Mona Baker.

The book is available in Open Access via Cambridge University Press.

Panel:

Eivind Engebretsen (University of Oslo)

Mona Baker (University of Oslo)

Jana Bacevic (University of Durham)

Kate McNeil (University of Cambridge)

Jonathan Grant (Different Angles)

Venue:

Room SR24, English Faculty, 9 West Road, Cambridge & online via Zoom.

Registration & Link:

To attend the event via Zoom and receive the link, please contact Inanna Hamati-Ataya (ih335@cam.ac.uk).

Book description

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed the highly specialized issue of what constitutes reliable medical evidence into a topic of public concern and debate. This book interrogates the assumption that evidence means the same thing to different constituencies and in different contexts. Rather than treating various practices of knowledge as rational or irrational in purely scientific terms, it explains the controversies surrounding COVID-19 by drawing on a theoretical framework that recognizes different types of rationality, and hence plural conceptualizations of evidence. Debates within and beyond the medical establishment on the efficacy of measures such as mandatory face masks are examined in detail, as are various degrees of hesitancy towards vaccines. The authors demonstrate that it is ultimately through narratives that knowledge about medical and other phenomena is communicated to others, enters the public space, and provokes discussion and disagreements.

Reviews

‘Deploying a nuanced analytical framework to tackle the social complexity of evidentiary truth, Engebretsen and Baker bring sociological order and meaning to the apparent incoherencies of collective and individual action in times of crisis. An exemplary illustration of how social science can confidently illuminate the social dimensions of truth-making without undermining its own epistemic coherence.’

Inanna Hamati-Ataya - University of Cambridge

‘In this readable, incisive analysis of recent history, Engebretsen and Baker critically revisit, expand and update Fisher’s narrative paradigm for the 21st century. Evident throughout is the urgent relevance of stories not only for how we make sense of the world but for how we must imaginatively configure new and hopeful stories for effective, transformative politics.’

Sue-Ann Harding - Queen’s University Belfast

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