Post-Truth and the Rhetoric of 'Following the Science'

27 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2023 Last revised: 25 Oct 2023

See all articles by Dennis Patterson

Dennis Patterson

Rutgers University School of Law, Camden; University of Surrey - School of Law

Jacob Hale Russell

Rutgers Law School

Date Written: August 10, 2023


Populists are often cast as deniers of rationality, creators of a climate of “post-truth,” and valuing tribe over truth and the rigors of science. Their critics claim the authority of rationality and empirical facts. Yet the critics no less than populists enable an environment of spurious claims and defective argumentation. This is especially true in the realm of science. An important case study is the account of scientific trust offered by a leading public intellectual and historian of science, Naomi Oreskes, and the misapplication of that theory during the corona- virus pandemic.


Funding Information: No outside funding was received for the research on this article.

Conflict of Interests: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Keywords: coronavirus; conspiracy theories; elite

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Dennis and Russell, Jacob, Post-Truth and the Rhetoric of 'Following the Science' (August 10, 2023). Critical Review, August 2023, DOI: 10.1080/08913811.2023.2231782 , Rutgers Law School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Dennis Patterson (Contact Author)

Rutgers University School of Law, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
856-225-6369 (Phone)
856-751-8752 (Fax)

University of Surrey - School of Law ( email )

United Kingdom

Jacob Russell

Rutgers Law School ( email )

Camden, NJ
United States

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