Public Attitudes and Trust in Europe – Analysing Country Level Differences

PERITIA invites researchers, policymakers, and media representatives to the presentation of results from survey data on public attitudes towards national governments, science, and media across six European countries: Germany, the UK, Ireland, Poland, Italy, and Norway.

How to Address an Infodemic: Experiments on (Dis)Information

PERITIA – Policy, Expertise and Trust – is organising a workshop, titled, ‘How to Address an Infodemic: Experiments on (Dis)Information’. The event will bring together international experts working on experiments in disinformation, including John Cook (Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub), Anastasia Kozyreva (Max Plank Institute for Human Development, Berlin), and Myrto Pantazi (Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels), among others, for a full-day programme in London.

PERITIA Lectures: 10 Speakers, 1400+ Participants, 200+ Questions

The PERITIA lectures series [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation came to an end this Tuesday with the final lecture ‘Expertise, Democracy and the Politics of Trust’ by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). Her lecture brought the series to a close with a reflection on the changing role of expertise across different political cultures.

Over 1400 attendees with more than 200 questions participated throughout the 10 lectures led by prominent academies from across Europe and the United States. The series explored the concepts of trust and truth in light of current events and included Q&A sessions moderated by Dr Shane Bergin and Prof Maria Baghramian (University College Dublin).

In the first part of the series, from April to June, participants were able to attend and interact with Naomi Oreskes (Harvard University), Quassim Cassam (Warwick University), Michael Lynch (University of Connecticut), Heather Douglas (Michigan State University) and Dan Sperber (Institut Jean Nicod).

The topics addressed ranged from trust in science, the value of truth in democracies or science advice systems, to conspiracy theories or cognitive science questions related to trust and argumentation.

The Autumn series, from October to November, brought together Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph), Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), Åsa Wikforss (Stockholm University) and Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

In this round of lectures, vaccine hesitancy, the lack of action against climate change, the impact of social media and disinformation on trust in science or the concept of knowledge resistance were discussed.

All biographies, abstracts, videos and reading materials are available online. The series was hosted by the University College Dublin and the American University of Armenia and counted with the support of ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

PERITIA is an EU-funded research project investigating public trust in expertise. ALLEA is one of the partners of the consortium, which is composed by 11 organisations from across Europe.

Visit PERITIA Lectures Website

Watch PERITIA Lectures on YouTube

PERITIA Lectures on Trust in an Age of Disinformation

The EU-funded project PERITIA is about to start the second part of its lectures series [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation. Hosted by the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life and the American University of Armenia, the series explores the concept of trust and truth in light of current events. The lectures start on 21 September and will run every second Tuesday, until November 2021. Registration is open.

Prominent philosophers and academics from across the globe will come together to present their latest research on trust in science, disinformation, vaccine hesitancy, conspiracy theories, trustworthy science, truth and democracy, and trust and cognitive science. Speakers include Åsa Wikforss (Stockholm University), Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph), Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), and Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University).

The lectures are open to all upon registration via Zoom and moderated by science communicator Shane Bergin. Participants are invited to join an interactive Q&A debate after each lecture. Reading materials are available for academic purposes on this page. You can rewatch and learn more on the first part of the series.

From Knowledge Resistance to Climate Action

This season will bring together a new interdisciplinary group of experts working on current issues including climate action, disinformation and science denial, among others. Philosopher Åsa Wikforss, from Stockholm University, will inaugurate the series with the question “What is knowledge resistance?”.

Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph) will continue with a revision of the common misunderstanding on the question of vaccines communication and the public understanding of trust in science.

Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol) will focus on online misinformation and its risks for democracy while discussing available solutions to this threat.

Philip Kitcher (Columbia University) will join us as part of this lecture series and the Berlin Science Week. His lecture will delve into a quintessential question for today’s society: Why is Climate Action so hard?

About the Series

The PERITIA Lectures have been running since April 2021 and brought together over 1000 online attendees who participated in the interactive lectures and Q&As with academics such as Noemi Oreskes (Harvard University), Quassim Cassam (Warwick University), Michael Lynch (University of Connecticut), Heather Douglas (Michigan State University) and Dan Sperber (Institut Jean Nicod). The recordings are available on PERITIA’s YouTube channel.

ALLEA is part of the PERITIA consortium, contributing to the cooperation, communications and dissemination of their activites, as well as connecting its research with a wide network of experts and stakeholders across Europe. The project brings together 11 international partners to investigate public trust in expertise with a multi-disciplinary approach.

Go to Registration page.

 

Future of Science Communication Conference: Moving Forward Research & Practice

How can we connect research and practice in the science communication field? How can science communication help make science more trustworthy? What lessons have we learned on the relationship between science and politics during the Covid-19 pandemic? Over 1000 participants joined two days of digital discussions and workshops to tackle these and more questions at the Future of Science Communication Conference.

After a year of planning and curating, the event took place in digital format on 24-25 June, co-organised by ALLEA and Wissenschaft im Dialog, the organisation for science communication in Germany and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the scope of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The international conference brought together actors from research and practice of science communication. Its goal was to sensitise the various stakeholders from science, science communication and politics to the respective challenges and to provide an impetus for stronger networking and transfer between the ‘science of science communication’ and European practitioner communities.

Attendees could enjoy three keynotes and six panels, participate in ten workshops and attend three lightning talk sessions, a poster session and a matching session. All sessions were related to one of five topics: Science & Politics, Trust in Science, Target Groups of Science Communication, Open Science & Citizen Science, and Fake News & Disinformation.

“We are at a Fork in the Road moment in science communication.” – Mike Schäfer (University of Zurich)

From Science Communication to Trust in Science

Day one started with welcoming words from Thomas Rachel MdB (Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) and the ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno, before featuring two keynotes by Mike Schäfer (University of Zurich) and the Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission Nicole Grobert (University of Oxford), who shared input from their scientific and political perspectives.

Schäfer presented an overall analysis of the science communication field with three main questions: how can we move forward, what is going well, what is not going so well. His take-home message was to recognise that science communication is in a “Fork in the Road” moment. Institutions, scientists and communicators should work together to push forward and scale up the synergies between practice and research. For instance, he proposed to increase “inreach” into science: motivate, train, support, valorize and sensitize scientists for societal demands.

The Chief Scientific Advisor Nicole Grobert added a science advice perspective to the discussion and provided insights on how to communicate emergency and strategic science advice. Particularly, she suggested to follow four key questions when communicating science advice for policy:

  • What we know
  • What we don’t know
  • What is uncertain
  • What cannot be known

The discussions continued in the afternoon with the panel “Trust in Science: nurtured, built or earned?”, moderated by Dr. Birte Fähnrich (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences/Zeppelin University) and with speakers Rainer Bromme (University of Münster), Maria Baghramian (University College Dublin/PERITIA), John Besley (Michigan State University) and Tracey Brown (Sense About Science).

The debate focussed on how to create a concept of trust in science useful for science communication. Speakers debated how to frame such debate for practical approaches, from focusing on the causes of distrust to understand the importance of trustworthiness in science. Their advice to the science communicators was:

  • Make the right questions about science (Brown).
  • Talk about your honesty, good intentions, competence (Besley).
  • Explain the process of science (Baghramian).
  • Foster epistemic trust (Broome).

“The infodemic in fact preceded the Covid-19 pandemic by many years” – Cissi Askwall (VA Public & Science)

Are we living an “infodemic”?

The second day was kicked off by our third keynote speaker, Cissi Askwall, sharing her perspectives from science communication practice, who argued that the “infodemic in fact preceded the Covid-19 pandemic by many years”.

Friday’s first panel “Fake News & Disinformation: A pandemic of its own?” developed further this question. The debate featured Natali Helberger (University of Amsterdam), Dan Larhammar (ALLEA/Royal Swedish Academy) and Philipp Lorenz-Spreen (Max Planck Institute for Human Development) and was moderated by journalist Kai Kupferschmidt. Panellists discussed digital media literacy and the importance of including schools in the debate on fake news. Lorenz-Spreen added: “We cannot rely on the idea that with the next generation and digital natives problems with fake news will disappear. We can see even university students today can be victims of fake news.”

In a pre-recorded impulse video, Dietram A. Scheufele (University of Wisconsin-Madison) challenged common wisdom on the relevance of disinformation in today’s science communication debates: “There is very limited social scientific evidence, if any, to suggest that misinformation directly connects to more pro-social behaviours, for instance, physical distancing or getting vaccines when available”. The moderator Kupferschmidt provided additional thought-provoking ideas and key takeaways on a Twitter thread:

Friday also featured a panel discussion on science and politics moderated by ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno. The panel included Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius (Alfred Wegener Institute), Dr. Janusz Bujnicki (International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw), Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam) and Dr. Bella Starling (Vocal / Wellcome Engagement Fellow / Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust). A key question that centred the debate was: What do policymakers want from scientists? Ortwin Renn had some suggestions:

In the final panel discussion, panellists touched on the question whether there is a gap between research and practice in science communication. Brian Trench (Dublin City University/PCST Network) asked whether instead we are overstressing this disconnection between the science of science communication and science communication practice. He also presented his manifesto for a future of science communication that is authentic, engaged, open, surprising, uncertain, ethical, inclusive, unfinished and interpreting.

“Science Communication is about interpreting the meaning of science for people” – Brian Trench (Dublin City University/PCST Network)

SAPEA and PERITIA workshops

Two ALLEA projects also found space in the programme. The workshop “Communicating microplastics risk: Balancing sensation and reflection” was hosted by SAPEA and featured Bart Koelmans (University of Wageningen), Sabine Pahl (University of Vienna), Lesley Henderson (Brunel University) and Toby Wardman (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies).

Additionally, our PERITIA colleagues organized two workshops, “Trust in science in social surveys: challenges, measurement and case studies” and “Using experiments to fight science disinformation online: an evidence-based guide”. The first workshop provided an overview on the nuances and complexity of measuring trust in science across countries and different contexts.

The second workshop led by Carlo Martini (PERITIA) offered an overview on strategies to tackle disinformation attempts with the use of attention and monetary incentives interventions on social media. The contribution of John Cook (Monash University) brought additional perspectives on the use of gamification to foster critical thinking. Read more about this on our interview with him at the ALLEA Digital Salon.

 

For further reading on the contents of the conference, you can find the summaries of Day 1 and Day 2 published at the German science communication portal Wissenschaftskommunition. More documentation will be published in the coming months. If you want to receive future updates, subscribe to the ALLEA newsletter.

 

PERITIA Lecture: Quassim Cassam

As part of the PERITIA Lectures series, Quassim Cassam, Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Warwick, will present a talk on ‘Misunderstanding Conspiracy Theories’ on 20 April 2021. Registration is open to all but mandatory.

PERITIA Public Lectures: [Un]Truths, Trust in an Age of Disinformation

PERITIA – Policy, Expertise and Trust – is launching a series of public lectures from 6 April to 1 June 2021. Around the topic of [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation’, these five meetings will explore the concept of trust and truth, both becoming contentious topics for science and democracy. Conspiracy theories disrupt political elections, disinformation campaigns target scientific consensus around climate change and vaccines, and anti-elite populism overshadows public debates. In the midst of a pandemic, citizens find themselves asking quintessential philosophical questionswhat truth is, whom we can trust, or how we should trust. 

Hosted by the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life and the American University of Armenia, the lectures are open to all upon registration via Zoom and moderated by science communicator Shane Bergin. The first part of this online series runs every second Tuesday, from April to June 2021. Participants are invited to join an interactive Q&A debate after each lecture. Registration is free.

  • Lecture 1: Trust in Science

    6 April 2021, 17:00 CEST
    Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University

  • Lecture 2: Misunderstanding Conspiracy Theories

    20 April 2021, 17:00 CEST
    Quassim Cassam, Warwick University

  • Lecture 3: The Democratic Value of Truth

    4 May 2021, 17:00 CEST
    Michael Lynch, University of Connecticut

  • Lecture 4: Trustworthy Science Advice

    18 May 2021, 17:00 CEST
    Heather Douglas, Michigan State University

  • Lecture 5: Trust vs. Argument

    1 June 2021, 17:00 CEST
    Dan Sperber, Institut Jean Nicod

Read more and register here

PERITIA Online Discussion: Creating a Climate of Trust

How can scientists and science communicators (re-)establish trust in trustworthy science in a changing media environment? As part of the international conference SCI:COM, PERITIA experts will discuss the different strategies used to tackle COVID-19 and their impact on trust in science communication under the motto “Creating a Climate of Trust in Science”.