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Author Information: Jeroen de Ridder, VU University Amsterdam,

de Ridder, Jeroen. “Science and Scientism in Popular Science Writing.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 12 (2014): 23-39.

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popular_scienceImage credit: Denise, via flickr


If one is to believe recent popular scientific accounts of developments in physics, biology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, most of the perennial philosophical questions have been wrested from the hands of philosophers by now, only to be resolved (or sometimes dissolved) by contemporary science. To mention but a few examples of issues that science has now allegedly dealt with: the origin and destiny of the universe, the origin of human life, the soul, free will, morality, and religion. My aim in this paper is threefold: (1) to show that these claims stem from the pervasive influence of a scientistic epistemology in popular science writing, (2) to argue that this influence is undesirable because it ultimately undermines not only the important role of popular science reporting in society but also the public’s trust in science, and (3) to offer suggestions on how popular science writing can be improved.

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