Trust in Expertise at times of Covid-19

The EU-funded research project PERITIA just launched its first newsletter dedicated to Covid-19 and trust in expertise. The issue includes highlights from the first five months of the project with a selection of essays, news, interviews, blog posts, and podcasts from its team dealing with how the pandemic is affecting trust in expertise and science advice systems. A general introduction to the project’s research agenda emphasizes three key questions:

  • What is the role of expertise in democracies?
  • How should science inform political decisions?
  • How can we prevent a populist backlash against expertise?

If you are curious about how PERITIA’s team has engaged in public debates and research around these questions, we kindly invite you to take a look and let us know what you think. If you enjoy it, don’t forget to subscribe here.

The project is conducting a comprehensive multi-disciplinary investigation of trust in, and the trustworthiness of, policy-related expert opinion. Its research will develop a theoretical framework to understand the fundamentals of trust, which will be complemented empirically with surveys and in-lab experiments.

Science advice and public engagement

A central part of PERITIA’s work will consist of a comparison of existing science advice mechanisms in four European countries. PERITIA researchers will investigate how expert advice is elicited and which of the available models is more trust enhancing.

The project’s plans also reach beyond research. Investigators seeks to design effective indicators and tools to build trust in expertise informing policy. Their conclusions will be tested in a series of citizens’ forums where experts, policymakers, and citizens will engage in face-to-face discussions on climate change.

ALLEA is a partner in the PERITIA consortium, which is formed by eleven organisations from nine countries, and is leading its work on communications and public engagement. The project is a follow-up of the ALLEA working group Truth, Trust and Expertise.

PERITIA Call for Abstracts: Trust in Expertise in a Changing Media Landscape

The EU-funded research project PERITIA has published a call for abstracts on the topic “Trust in Expertise in a Changing Media Landscape”. Accepted papers will be discussed in an international conference in Berlin on 18-19 March 2021. The keynotes of the event include Prof Onora O’Neill (Cambridge), Prof Natali Helberger (Amsterdam), Prof Michael Latzer (Zurich), Prof Christoph Neuberger (Berlin). The project invites abstracts of up to 300 words and a short bio of up to 100 words by 1 September, 2020.

The conference will highlight the question of trust in a changing media landscape, addressing the following three general questions:

  1. How does trust in expertise play out in the context of a changing media landscape, in particular the transformation from legacy media (newspapers, tv) to digital platforms (social media, blogs, vlogs)?
  2. Can we develop a better understanding of conditions of trust and trustworthiness in the context of digital platforms and social media? How may conditions differ in various (European) countries or in the (geopolitical) contexts of different continents?
  3. What is the impact of digital media and its users on (institutional) trust in governance that is rooted in scientific evidence and fact-finding?

Possible topics may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Analytical perspectives on, and empirical investigations of, public debates concerning the value of scientific expertise, e.g. in the area of climate change and the corona-pandemic.
  • Theoretical and practice-based studies on the (changing) conditions for anchoring public trust in institutions and professionals; the ethics of digital communication.
  • Empirical and investigative studies on the role of legacy media vis-à-vis digital platforms in undermining or enhancing trust in social institutions.

Submission Details

This call solicits presentations and papers from a number of (inter)disciplinary fields, bringing together perspectives from media and communication studies, information science, public policy, philosophy, social and political sciences, and more. Papers will be selected on the basis of quality of content and suitability to the theme. The two day conference will feature up to 60 presentations in various panels and keynotes. Selected papers will be considered for publication in a special issue or edited volume.

This conference aims to foster the exchange of ideas across national and disciplinary borders between senior and junior researchers. We have therefore reserved limited funds for travel grants to support excellent contributions from early career scholars and scholars from the global south. Please indicate your interest when submitting your abstract.

PERITIA invites abstracts of up to 300 words and a short bio of up to 100 words by 1 September, 2020.

Abstracts should be sent to peritia@allea.org.

Information regarding acceptance should be available by early October 2020.

ALLEA is a partner in the PERITIA Consortium.

PEriTiA Call for Papers: Social Indicators of Trust in Experts

ALLEA is pleased to share a PEriTiA Call for Papers for the upcoming international workshop “Social Indicators of Trust in Experts” to be held in Paris on 1-2 October 2020. The deadline for submission of abstracts has been extended to 30 April. The aim of this event is to help understand what informal social indicators people use in order to evaluate the trustworthiness of experts.

PEriTiA International Workshop: Social Indicators of Trust in Experts

Date: October 1-2 2020

Organizer(s): Gloria Origgi and Ty Branch, PEriTiA

Location: Paris, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS)

Keynote speakers: Dan Sperber, Mark Alfano, Cristina Bicchieri

Call for Papers

When we are not competent enough ourselves, we rely on experts to advise us and to act in our best interest, with the vulnerability involved in such a dependence on the competence and goodwill of others. How do we evaluate the trustworthiness of experts? Since we appeal to experts when we lack relevant epistemic competence, we cannot judge their trustworthiness on direct epistemic grounds. Reliance on experts and appeal to their domains of expertise extends well beyond traditional measures of impact, authority, and ranking. Formal indicators are complemented by informal social indicators (quality, credibility and trustworthiness), which work as cues of reputation that are distributed in a social environment.

The aim of this conference, as part of the EU funded project PEriTiA – Policy, Expertise, and Trust in Action, is to help understand what informal social indicators people use in order to evaluate the trustworthiness of experts. Among the informal social indicators there are emotions, gossip, authority, social status and the biases that underscore them. For example, when lay persons rapidly estimate the credibility of a doctor, they rely on informal social indicators like recommendations from trusted individuals (word-of-mouth), perceived social prestige (social status), and emotional response to the doctor. Such examples show how social indicators can combine and conflict in expected and unexpected ways, the consequences of this socially shaped reliance on expertise, and their overall social impact.

On the subject of informal social indicators, we welcome theoretical and empirical contributions (including case studies) addressing epistemic, normative and practical aspects of trust in experts. Questions/topics for consideration include, but are not limited to:

  1. How do people use reputation in order to establish the epistemic credibility of experts?
  2. What is epistemic authority and when is it reasonable to attribute it to experts?
  3. How status relations influence the credibility of experts?
  4. To what extent can gossip be a reliable way of extracting information from an epistemic social environment?
  5. What are the social biases that participate into the formation of credibility deficits of a group?
  6. What are the emotional aspects that influence the attribution of epistemic authority and status to experts?

Papers will be presented in sessions of 40 minutes and a selection of papers will be published in a journal.

Abstract submission details

We invite abstracts of 500-1000 words by 30 April 2020.

Abstracts should be sent to SocialIndicatorsParis2020@gmail.com.

Information regarding acceptance should be available by mid-May.

‘Trust in a Changing World’ – PEriTiA kicks off with international symposium in Dublin

PEriTiA – Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action – has been launched today with the inaugural symposium ‘Trust in a Changing World’ hosted by University College Dublin (UCD). Funded for three years by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project addresses the rise of an anti-elitist discourse questioning the trustworthiness of scientific expertise. Researchers will explore the conditions under which people trust expert opinion that shapes public policy.

Keynote speakers of today’s multi-disciplinary symposium include David Farrell (UCD/Royal Irish Academy), José van Dijck (Utrecht University/KNAW), Bobby Duffy (King’s College London), Susan Owens (University of Cambridge/British Academy), and Judith Simon (University of Hamburg).

The discussion will help illuminate the main topics to be further investigated by PEriTiA in the next 3 years. You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #TrustInAction. The lectures will be made available on PEriTiA’s website.

Learn more about PEritiA

Follow the project on Twitter and Facebook

ALLEA Awarded H2020 Project on Public Trust in Expertise

PEriTiA (Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action) will explore the conditions under which people trust science and expertise used by governments and other societal decision-makers to inform their policies.

The multi-disciplinary Horizon 2020-funded project will be coordinated by University College Dublin (UCD) and co-led by ALLEA. It is a follow up of the ALLEA Truth, Trust and Expertise Working Group and the UCD project When Experts Disagree (WEXD).

Its main goal is to test how emotions and values influence the process of placing or refusing trust in expertise that shapes public policies. In a coordinated action of various qualitative and quantitative investigations, it will assess its conceptual and empirical framework with the exemplary case of climate science. Its final aim is to help building trustworthy and trust-enhancing narratives about the role of science in governance.

The initiative is funded by the EU research and innovation programme H2020 with €3 million for 3 years, starting in February 2020.

Policy, Expertise and Trust

Public trust in expertise plays a central role in democracy, but the rise of anti-elitist narratives and populist politics, among other factors, have put the credibility of experts into question.

In its discussion paper series, ALLEA examines different aspects of this topic including the alleged loss of trust in science and expertise, the role of the changing landscape of communication, and trust within science itself. PEriTiA will take a further step and explore some unanswered questions derived from this work.

“Given the central role assigned to expert bodies and organisations in social and political governance, (justified) trust in the information provided by scientific bodies and advisory organisations, by both the general public and policy makers, is a fundamental condition of good governance,” said Project Coordinator Maria Baghramian on UCD’s website, who has been an active part of the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise and member of the Royal Irish Academy.

“Our aim, in this project, is to better understand the nature and conditions of trust in the public domain and to discover indicators which can be used in measuring and establishing the trustworthiness of those involved in social and political decision making,” she added.

Engaging the public in a cross-cutting collaboration

PEriTiA will bring together philosophers, social and natural scientists, policy experts, ethicists, psychologists, media specialists and civil society organisations to carry on a comprehensive multi-disciplinary research.

The collaboration will use innovative formats to conduct and disseminate its research including podcasts, citizens’ and experts’ fora across Europe and an essay competition addressed to young students.

In addition to ALLEA and UCD, the consortium consists of various partners from across Europe including University of Oslo (Norway), Institut Jean Nicod (France), Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Italy), American University of Armenia (Armenia), Sense About Science (UK), King’s College London (UK), Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and Strane Innovation (France).