Power over people’s wisdom – Swedish public skepticism reviewed

Per Anders ForstorpNew report on Swedish skepticism published at the University of Linkoping 2011-05-09

The mission of the world wide movement of skeptics is to combat pseudo science. Skeptics in Sweden are organized in the association Vetenskap och Folkbildning (Eng. Science and Popular Education) and around the journal Folkvett (Eng. Popular Wisdom).

The active members of the organization intervene in the public sphere through revealing and ”debunking” claims to scientificness that do not match the standards of scientific epistemology and methods set up by the organization. These revelations are often pronounced in dramatic and moralizing terms where distinctions are made between science that is good or bad, true or false.

The revelations and debunkings are made with the motivation that they perform an important function in order to maintain belief and legitimacy in science and democracy. The organization has received ideological support both from the scientific community and from the media.

In this study skeptics in Swedish society are focused in order to understand their conceptions of science and of science communication. Analytical focus is on their epistemology,their methods for revealing and debunking pseudo science, and the narrative structure that such revelations are following.

Furthermore, focus is also on their conceptions of the public and of the public sphere. This critical study is grounded in science communication and science and technology studies.

The critique is that skeptics are monopolizing science as well as popular education and that they thereby show intolerance for varieties and differences in both these realms. They are also criticized for assuming a role of acting as the epistemological police unit in the public sphere.

Mor info about the publication

Download the publication for free (in Swedish, PDF)


Per-Anders Forstorp (homepage)
School of Computer Science and Communication
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
forstorp (at) kth.se


The Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture
University of Linkoping
per-anders.forstorp (at) liu.se