The 2021 Word Of The Year is…
of or relating to knowledge or the conditions for acquiring it.
The Greek noun epistḗmē “skill, knowledge, scientific knowledge, science” is a derivative of the verb epistánai “to know how (to do), believe (that), be acquainted with, know, know as a fact.” The verb is composed of the prefix epi- “on, over” and stánai “to stand.” Various languages use different prefixes plus the verb to stand to express intellectual comprehension: in Greek one “stands over”; in German verstehen means literally “stand before’”; and in English one “stands under.”
Debates over epistemic principles sound abstract, but they have enormous practical repercussions. For instance, in order to decide policy matters (like what to put in our textbooks and what to teach in science classrooms) we need to decide on the facts.
The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.