• Eivind Engebretsen

Available from September 2022: 'Rethinking Evidence in the Time of Pandemics' (CUP, 2022)

The book interrogates the assumption that evidence means the same thing to different people and in different contexts by exploring the various stories about COVID-19 and the values that make people believe in them. Ultimately, it is through narratives that knowledge about medical and other phenomena is communicated to others, enters the public sphere and provokes discussion, endorsement or disagreements.

Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm, as expanded and updated in this book, provides us with a nuanced perspective on why people arrive at different decisions based on the same sources of evidence, and encourages us to acknowledge their reasons for doing so as rooted in different types of rationality, rather than dismissing them as irrational.

The book argues that we – especially in situations of crisis - need to

  1. understand and empathize with other peoples’ stories and the values they encode;

  2. assess these stories based on the universe in which these people live and the values they hold most dear; and

  3. acknowledge the narrative coherence and credibility of people’s stories – even when these are in conflict with the rationality of science.

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