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Climate science has been under pressure to provide reliable information on climate change to policy-makers as quick as possible. However, there are huge epistemic uncertainties that concern many areas of climate science. The combination of political interests and epistemic uncertainties often leads to dissent on climate change research in both climate science and society.

Such dissent, on the one hand, is epistemically fruitful. Without critical exchange, the process of examining, reworking, refining, and improving scientific hypotheses would be difficult, if not impossible. Dissenting views often carry certain insights that would otherwise get lost in the process, and the inclusion of perspectives of scientists of diverse backgrounds can serve as an aid to achieve objectivity.

On the other hand, recent sociological and historical science studies indicate that dissent can also be instrumentalized in ways that undermine the epistemically fruitful consequences usually associated with it. There is a growing tendency of some stakeholders to attempt to delay political action by ‘manufacturing doubt’ on anthropogenic climate change.

It is still largely unclear whether such manufactured dissent is epistemically detrimental or whether it can be, in particular cases, fruitful for the advancement of climate science. Thus, the workshop addresses three questions:

  1. Investigating whether dissent is sometimes instrumentalized to prevent the generation of knowledge and, if so, how we can distinguish such cases from epistemically fruitful dissent.
  2. Finding out in what way climate science is influenced in its working procedures by manufactured dissent.
  3. Exploring how the public, politics, and science itself should respond to the manufacture of dissent.


Justin Biddle
Inmaculada de Melo-Martín
Kristen Intemann
Alfred Moore
Torsten Wilholt

Date and Location

28-29 October 2015
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
Karlsruhe, Germany


Anna Leuschner (KIT) and Laszlo Kosolosky (Ghent University),
supported by Torsten Wilholt (Leibniz-Universität Hannover) and
Justin Biddle (Georgia Institute of Technology).

The workshop is funded by the ITAS, the Leibniz Universität Hannover, and the DFG.