The “streetlight effect” describes situations where we become overly concerned with where it is easiest to look. In academia, the streetlight effect can describe common practices of leveraging familiar worldviews, tools, and methods, while adhering to disciplinary norms to investigate that which is close to what is known, but still not yet known. Equally important to knowledge claims is that which falls “beyond the light” of our typical epistemic apparatus. In this paper we propose the concept “dark matters”, signifying the gravity of that which is unseen or unobserved contribute to how phenomena are made, preserved, and perceived. We outline a multiplicity of configurations for dark matters through an exploration of literature discussing negative phenomena. Based on our exploration, we compose a vocabulary for articulating dark matters to communicate their significance for epistemic claims. We conclude by discussing approaches to future research for engaging with the unseen and unobserved.
Sullivan, Rick; Hannon, Oliver; and Hovorka, Dirk, "Dark Matters: Becoming Attuned to Epistemic Darkness" (2023). ACIS 2023 Proceedings. 109.