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How can we distinguish legitimate critique from unsubstantiated claims or conspiracy theories? How should planners respond to a political environment in which unfounded claims are increasingly part of the public discourse?  In this Viewpoint published in the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA), we think through some of the challenges planners are confronting in a polarized political environment. We observe that urban and city debates are not immune to contentious claims or fake news and provide suggestions on how to respond. My colleauge Dr Oriol Marquet took the intelectual lead on this fine piece and it was a pleasure to iterate with Samuel Nel.lo and Isabelle Anguelovski.  The abstract and link to the full paper below.

Science skeptics have spent years attacking climate science, but it has only been recently that post- COVID-19 conspiracy theorists have directed their attention to local city planning, with misinformation campaigns throwing vitriol at the idea of the 15-minute city and denouncing planning best practices as a global form of social engineering with hidden agendas to restrict private freedoms. In this context, urban planners and practitioners need to understand the nature of conspiracy claims and distinguish legitimate concerns about the 15-minute city model. As science skeptics and conspiracy theories gain ground in all sectors of our societies, researchers and city planners need to communicate evidence-based decision making and address science-driven concerns.

Oriol Marquet, Isabelle Anguelovski, Samuel Nello-Deakin & Jordi Honey-Rosés (05 Jun 2024): Decoding the 15-Minute City Debate: Conspiracies, Backlash, and Dissent in Planning for Proximity,  Journal of the American Planning Association, DOI:10.1080/01944363.2024.2346596  (open access)


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