Photo of Edinburgh, Scotland, with the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh Castle, and the Scott Monument visible in the skyline.

The use of expertise in the Scottish referendum debate: build them up to knock them down?

In a wonderfully perceptive article from 1999, German sociologist Peter Weingart identifies two paradoxes surrounding the use of science in political debate (and we can apply this to expertise more generally). First, late modern societies show an unprecedented dependence on expert knowledge to assess the risks and consequences of political action.