At the Bourse du Commerce, Gérald Bronner receives the Today award

FIGAROVOX / MEETING – In the presence of François Pinault, patron of the prestigious prize, the sociologist made a plea for critical thinking in the face of digital unreason.

Under the dome of the Bourse du Commerce-Pinault collection, under the watchful eye of the owner, who is also the support and patron of the prestigious Prix Today, Christine Clerc and the deputy director of the Figaro Vincent Trémolet de Villers presented this Wednesday, October 13 the Today Prize to Gérald Bronner, sociologist, member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Technologies and the University Institute of France, for his book Apocalypse cognitive (PUF, January 6, 2021).

Created in 1962 by great journalists, such as Jean Ferniot and André Frossard, this prestigious prize rewards a political or historical document of high literary quality. Thanks to its patron, it is one of the best endowed in France: a check for 50,000 euros was given to the winner.

Gérald Bronner succeeds in particular Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Milan Kundera, George Steiner, Alain Finkielkraut, Patrick Boucheron, Thierry Wolton, or even Mona Ozouf. The prize has continued to open up to the world, rewarding the work of Rithy Panh on Cambodia, Jean Birnbaum on Algeria, Amin Maalouf on Lebanon or Alice Ekman on China, in 2020.

For this 59e edition, the jury composed of Raphaëlle Bacqué, Albert Du Roy, Christophe Barbier, Anna Cabana, Alain Duhamel, Bruno Frappat, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, Sonia Mabrouk, Alain-Gérard Slama, by Philippe Tesson and Vincent Trémolet de Villers, rewarded an essay that questions our society in the era of multiple screens. Does the reign of social networks offer us more freedom of expression or does it especially promote the dissemination of fake news ? Their users ” believe themselves free in ignorance of the causes that determine them “, Estimates the brand new director of the government commission of” Enlightenment in the digital age “.

Gérald Bronner and François Pinault. David Atlan

Gérald Bronner debated in a friendly atmosphere on the sensitive issue of fake news and the regulation of information. ” How to regulate the power regulating hubris ? », Asked the director of Point Etienne Gernelle. The sociologist, in response, has drawn up the complex panorama of the digital continent where marginal thoughts can, by the force of the algorithm, become central. While we can express our views through different mediums, algorithms now make us captive to our own views, he continued. Indeed, the “anchor bias” prevents us from losing our first impression. By focusing on the first information it receives, our brain no longer knows how to take the news into account. However, the fake news is the most viral information, and therefore the information that reaches citizens the most quickly and en masse. The health crisis and the conflagration around the issue of vaccines is an illustration of this, believes Gerald Bronner.

How to regulate this ” market of opinions “? Reluctant to the idea of ​​placing strict limitations on the use of screens, even for children, the sociologist is betting on a ” individual regulation through the development of critical thinking “. We must therefore allow citizens to learn to ” put away [leurs] intuitions “To favor a scientific approach to the most technical subjects: a” knowledge democracy »Against a« democracy of the gullible “. A challenge that concerns above all the school and our ability to learn and cultivate ourselves. Learning and culture is what the participants did by visiting the extraordinary Pinault collection of the Bourse du commerce.

From left to right: Raphaëlle Bacqué, Christophe Barbier, Christine Clerc, Gérald Bronner and Vincent Trémolet de Villers. David Atlan

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