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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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PERSPECTIVE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 518-524

Avoiding a Post-truth World: Embracing Post-normal Conservation


School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK

Correspondence Address:
David Christian Rose
School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_17_131

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In response to unexpected election results across the world, and a perceived increase of policy decisions that disregard scientific evidence, conservation scientists are reflecting on working in a ‘post-truth’ world. This phrase is useful in making scientists aware that policy-making is messy and multi-faceted, but it may be misused. By introducing three different scenarios of conservation decision-making, this perspective argues that a mythical era of ‘science or truth conservation’ has never existed. Since an ‘extended peer community’ of decision-makers (policy-makers, practitioners, stakeholders) are present in multi-layered governance structures, conservation has always been ‘post-normal’. To decrease the chances of ‘post-truth’ decision-making occurring, the perspective encourages scientists to think carefully about scientific workflows and science communication. Developing a conservation narrative which does not see values, beliefs, and interests, as key parts of modern functioning democracies risks upholding a perception of the disconnected ivory tower of science. Rather, co-productive relationships should be established with decision-makers, and we should harness the power of storytelling to engage people on a personal level. This perspective encourages scientists to take heed of research on stakeholder engagement and storytelling, and to embrace workflows suited to post-normal conservation, rather than trying to deny that a post-normal world exists.


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