Burning Books, Fighting Facts: How Individuals & Institutions Resist, Reject, and Destroy Knowledge
Alternative facts, fake news, disinformation, propaganda. We live in a world where even the most basic factual claims—from the reality of anthropogenic climate change to who won the 2020 Presidential election—are disputed. But while this state of affairs may seem shocking, it is not entirely new: there is a long history of scientific (and other factual) claims coming under attack for political, social, economic, and ideological reasons. Yet, it feels as if things have of late become worse. In this course, we will examine the history of attempts to deny and destroy knowledge, the various motivations for it, the various means people have used to obstruct knowledge, and whether the current moment is exceptional in this regard, or not.