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World Forum for Democracy 2017 - From Fake to Fact: How to strengthen ties among Research, Policy, and Society to counter populism?

9 November 2017, Strasbourg

‘Post-fact’ politics is internationally fuelling concern, particularly in contested fields of public policy, such as social and minority rights, external relations and migration/refugee affairs, and, not least, counter-terrorism and -radicalisation. The interplay of value divergence and uncertainty has proved very vulnerable to opportunistic, simplistic discourses that blend out uncomfortable facts, disqualify opposing views, and polarise public opinion.

Under such circumstances, the relationship among science, policy making, and society is taking a new twist: In the face of proliferation of fake news via social media, and the spread and ‘normalisation’ of uncivil and manipulative behaviours in the public sphere by populist and extremist parties for political gain, the demand for evidence-based resistance has become visible.

While researchers, policy makers, and the media operate along different logics, interests, and time-frames for their action, there is a pressing need to re-examine responsibilities of research and academia, politicians and public administration, as well as the media and the organised civil society, and recast their strategic partnerships. A common objective thereby is to contribute to the self-defence capacity of democracy’s ‘immune reflexes’ by providing evidence and facts to inform policy making both in the technical-scientific sense, and by promoting plausible counter-narratives in the social media and the public sphere in general.

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