Knowledge resistance

How we avoid insight from others

By Mikael Klintman

Knowledge resistance


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3521-6
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: July 2019
  • BIC Category: Sociology, Philosophy: epistemology & theory of knowledge, PSYCHOLOGY / General, BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Ancient Mysteries & Controversial Knowledge, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Knowledge Capital, Social, Group Or Collective Psychology, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Popular Beliefs & Controversial Knowledge, Philosophy: Epistemology & Theory Of Knowledge


Why do people and groups ignore, deny and resist knowledge about society's many problems? In a world of 'alternative facts', 'fake news' that some believe could be remedied by 'factfulness', the question has never been more pressing. After years of ideologically polarised debates on this topic, the book seeks to further advance our understanding of the phenomenon of knowledge resistance by integrating insights from the social, economic and evolutionary sciences. It identifies simplistic views in public and scholarly debates about what facts, knowledge and human motivations are and what 'rational' use of information actually means. The examples used include controversies about nature-nurture, climate change, gender roles, vaccination, genetically modified food and artificial intelligence. Drawing on cutting-edge scholarship as well as personal experiences of culture clashes, the book is aimed at the general, educated public as well as students and scholars interested in the interface of human motivation and the urgent social problems of today.


'At all levels of society, our world is becoming increasingly dominated by an inability, even refusal, to engage with others' ideas. It does not bode well either for democracy or for science. Mikael Klintman's book offers just the kind of in-depth exploration of the issues that surround this disturbing phenomenon that is desperately needed.'

R.I.M. Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford University and author of Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language

'Few things could be more important right now than trying to shed new light on "knowledge resistance" in the Internet age. It may not be a new phenomenon, but the way it impacts on our lives today, it is an existential threat to humanity. Mikael Klintman's book provides valuable perspectives on knowledge resistance and suggests how we, as individuals and societies, could find ways to manage and prevent its harmful forms.'

Björn Ulvaeus, songwriter, producer and member of the Swedish pop group ABBA and tireless promoter of critical thinking in the spirit of the Enlightenment

'A must-read, especially in these turbulent times. An insightful approach to a complex issue.'
Nazli Choucri, Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


1 Introduction
2 What knowledge resistance isn't and a hint at what it is
3 If you're with us, don't believe them
4 Why invalid claims can be valuable
5 Knowledge belief first, confirming evidence second
6 What's in it for me to know that?
7 When knowledge is responsibility and ignorance freedom
8 What if the earth is round? Concerns about cultural consequences
9 How to resist knowledge resistance - and when
10 Is knowledge resistance always bad, and other questions


Mikael Klintman is Professor of Sociology at the University of Lund, Sweden, Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, London School of Economics and Political Science and a former Wallenberg Fellow of Environment and Sustainability at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

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