The term postmodernism emerged in the late 1970s to capture the changed character of the sciences in the 20th century, which called into question the idea that the organized pursuit of knowledge has a unique and natural course of development that can provide the basis for the general improvement of humanity, typically in the form of rational statecraft. In this respect, post-modernism's recognition of multiple sources of scientific authority has complicated the task of science communication, as it opens the possibility that one might still be proscience yet opposed to the dominant “modernist” narratives advanced in official scientific pronouncements and much popular science writing.

This “modernist” ideal had gone under a variety of names, from “positivism” in philosophical circles to simply “progress” in more popular ones. ...

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