Programme / Thematic Sessions I. b. How Science Reinforces Democracy through a More Realistic Picture of Human Nature

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Day 2

Thursday / 21 NOV

11:30 - 13:00

Thematic session:
Thematic Sessions I. b. How Science Reinforces Democracy through a More Realistic Picture of Human Nature
Venue: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Library Conference Hall

This thematic session focussed on the influence of human nature on democracy and on the question of how science can help us to understand this process. At the beginning Koen Vermeir, moderator of the session, introduced the topic and invited the audience to take part in an interactive talk. As a warm-up, he asked two questions: one about the role of facts and reasons in our complex environment; the other about how science and governments should handle them. The session became truly interactive, as more than eleven questions/comments were discussed. The first presenter was Eeva Hellström, who highlighted the importance of good decision-making based on various relevant information sources. The other main idea of her talk was that decision makers should be more open to dialogue. Shoji Komai showed that the human cognitive bias map is very important in understanding human nature. Most people accept information only from familiar sources (like family or the close community), which blocks collective intelligence. David Mair pointed out the difference in people’s value preferences, and noted that facts are usually influenced by frames, metaphors and narratives of interpretation. Trust is also crucial in science and in politics as well, although its mechanism is rather complex. The last presenter was Connie Nshemereirwe, who emphasised that technology and knowledge transfer to Africa often does not work, and not everyone there can take advantage of it. Support from developed countries should be designed based on developing countries’ own reality. Then the moderator turned to the audience again, and after another interactive discussion, closed the session.


Rapporteur: Ádám Tajti, Assistant Research Fellow, Budapest University of Technology and Economics