I'm studying Sociology at City University in London, and as part of my 3rd year dissertation I've decided to try to understand more about people's interactions with science. In particular, I am focusing on what I call "the quest for truth". I define it as
the incessant, sometimes obsessive, pursuit of objective truth in relation to a contentious public debate. I am particularly interested in the issue of climate change.For this, I am looking for people who have been on a quest for truth, or who are in the middle of it right now.
What do I have to do?
If you are or have been on a quest for truth, I would love to interview you, so that we can all understand this process better, and that maybe we can learn something useful.
More explicitly, the official criteria are:
- you are informed about the debate in climate change
- you proactively seek information about climate change, as opposed to occasionally engaging with the media or social circles
- you have ‘changed camps’ at least once (e.g. from not believing to believing, from ‘we need to act now’ to ‘things will work themselves out’, etc.) OR
- you are either indecisive or still doubting your position
Respondents will have access to the final research text once it's finalized. This will be my way of saying thank you.
But what exactly is this quest for truth?
I think that many people go through a process like this at least once. At least once we become so curious, so infuriated or so confused with an issue that we just have to 'get to the bottom of it'.
And then we start to dig: the more layers we uncover the surer we are we know too little. And the more confused we get, the more we dig.
News articles and television quickly prove insufficient for our informational needs, and books start to contradict each other, while scientific papers seem to wonder off in their own world. We find ourselves in the middle of bitter disputes over who is wrong and who is right; we find it quite curious that it is only us who haven't realised it's a 'fabricated' debate, that 'they' are merely obscuring the 'well-known' facts.
Funnily enough, then we start to find others who seem to be on the same journey - from overtly confused politicians to reporters who retract their statements to friends who identify with our journey. We uncover scandals, accusations, and fabrications. The more we read proselytizing between the lines the surer we are it's important to understand 'the truth'.
Of course, the quest for truth can be much easier: read the facts, adopt an informed opinion, done.
I did this myself when I was arduously researching the Church of Scientology. Much of the things I read confirmed my opinion, and there was such a small incentive to trust the others that it was a very easy decision to make.
I am not at all implying that I did the right thing, nor, generally, that there is a 'right' way to go on the quest for truth. In fact, I would do many things differently now.
But I am interested in the complicated journeys, in the ones which feel like bottomless rabbit holes, which make you sink deeper the more you struggle, like moving sands. Not only because they are longer and richer in valuable lived experience, but also because they are increasingly an integral part of our societies.
What kind of truths?
From 9/11 to Israel / Palestine, to how money 'really' work, to darwinian evolutionism, to whether humans are 'naturally' monogamous or not, to water flouridation, and not least to climate change, we seem to be engaging in more and more of these debates.
But people have been doing this all the time!
Of course, people have been debating since time immemorial. But now the sheer amount of information we have access to can truly make it a daunting task (a bit like Where's Wally); the media can influence us to a huge degree; the sciences are losing their golden polish of authority; politics is everywhere; and the potential consequences of many of these issues are overwhelming.
Not to mention that this process hasn't been studied nearly enough!
So don't wait any longer, contact me at mihai-george.chira.1 [at] city.ac.uk , or leave a comment to this post.
Also please send this page to anyone you think might have been on a quest for truth, especially in climate change. We all know people like this, and they ought to be put forward. And please share this article on Facebook and Twitter.