The current epistemic crisis might affect our epistemic wellbeing

Epistemic wellbeing is your reasonably based sense that you’ll be able to know what you want and need to know about the world in order for your life to go well. This could involve knowledge in general – you want to feel like you can find answers to questions that you think are important to satiate your curiosity – as well as knowing more specific things – there will be some things you need to know in order to accomplish your life’s projects. If you have access to lots of good sources of information and can get your questions answered when you need them, then you have a high degree of epistemic wellbeing. You need to figure out which sources of information are good ones.

While it’s in an important sense irrational to believe in many conspiracy theories, the motivation behind doing so is not necessarily irrational. Similar things can be said about another disturbing trend: the increasing distrust in experts. Consider the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Failures to believe in its severity, the effectiveness of preventative measures (such as social distancing and wearing masks) and scepticism towards the development of a vaccine have come about in part because of a feeling that those who are deemed experts can’t be trusted.

“Misinformation” = “information we don’t want you knowing about”

Barack Obama warned of potentially dire consequences if we couldn’t get the epistemological crisis under control. The marketplace of ideas will cease to function, and so too will a well-functioning democracy.

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