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Who to trust on Covid-19? When science gets “dirty” in the political mud

PERITIA, ALLEA – All European Academies | Maria Baghramian, Bobby Duffy, Shane Bergin, José van Dijck, Carlo Martini, Tracey Brown

Is a loss of public trust in expertise the “collateral damage” of the COVID-19 crisis or do people trust experts more now than ever before?

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a real-time test for trust in expertise. Since the beginning of the crisis, scientific experts have been in the centre of public attention; some as independent voices, others as direct advisers to politicians; often in uncomfortable positions and perhaps too frequently contradicting each other. Some experts have turned into celebrities, enjoying praise but also receiving strong criticism and even, at times, being targeted by political campaigns. At the same time, the effectiveness of the policies to tackle the pandemic relies, to a large extent, on citizens’ trust in those experts and the politicians in charge of urgent decisions.
What lessons can we draw from the handling of the pandemic for understanding trust in policy-driven expertise? How have different countries dealt with the delicate enterprise of communicating and relying on uncertain and evolving evidence and advice in extremely difficult times? Is a loss of public trust in expertise the “collateral damage” of this crisis or are people trusting experts more than before?

PERITIA is a Horizon 2020 research project investigating what drives public trust in science-based advice for policymaking. As part of its activities, it proposes an interactive moderated discussion to reflect on these questions. Join experts in an open roundtable discussion to shed light on the different strategies used to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic across Europe and their consequences.

PUBLIC PANEL DISCUSSION ONLINE. PLEASE REGISTER.

This is a digital event. If you would like to attend please book your spot here.

The access to the event will be provided through the organiser and after registration.

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Maria Baghramian

University College Dublin

Professor of American Philosophy, PERITIA Lead Investigator

Prof. Maria Baghramian, MRIA (UCD) is Professor of American Philosophy in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin and the co-director of the Post Graduate Programme in Cognitive Science at UCD, which she co-founded in 2000. She has also held visiting posts in Harvard, MIT, University of Yerevan, Institut Jean Nicod, École normale supérieure, Paris and various universities in China. Baghramian is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and was a member of the Council (2015-2019). Other research awards include a Fulbright senior scholarship in 2013. She, with Prof Luke Drury, is the Principal Investigator ‘When Experts Disagree’ (WEXD), an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Irish Research Council. She is also an active participant of the working groups dealing with science and policy with ALLEA and SAPEA. Baghramian was the founder and chairperson of the Society for Women in Philosophy, Ireland (SWIP–I) and is a member of both the Programme Committee and the Gender Committee of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP). She has authored and edited 9 books, most recently From Trust to Trustworthiness (Routledge, 2018) and Relativism: New Problems of Philosophy (Routledge, 2019) with Analisa Coliva.

Bobby Duffy

King’s College London

Director of The Policy Institute

Prof. Bobby Duffy, Director of The Policy Institute at King’s College London, leads the PERITIA work on ensuring the integrity of survey design and analytical approach. Duffy has spent much of his career studying levels and drivers of individual and institutional trust, including as Managing Director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and Global Director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. This has included a major re-analysis of existing data on trust while seconded to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, and a report on trust in government information, using experimental framing approaches, and which fed into the decision to give independence to the Office for National Statistics. He has also recently published the book The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, which explores the causes of our misperceptions of social realities, across up to 40 countries globally. Duffy has extensive experience of conducting surveys and analytics/modelling, amassed across twenty-four years of working in and running research teams at Ipsos MORI. This includes overseeing major international studies on behalf of organisations including Eurofound, OSCE and Pew Research Center. He oversaw qualitative research for Trust in Media and Populism, Pew Research Center in 2018.The final report In Western Europe, Public Attitudes Towards News Media More Divided by Populist Views than Left-Right Ideology was published in 2018.

Shane Bergin

University College Dublin

Assistant Professor on Science Education

Dr. Shane Bergin is a physicist based in Dublin with ample experience on science education and science communication. He is an assistant professor in science education at NUID UCD’s School of Education. Shane and his research group are interested in teaching and learning in physics (and STEM more broadly). Shane’s research considers these informal settings like lecture-halls or labs and more informal settings like a metro train. In 2018, Shane produced and presented ‘101 The Ways We Learn’ – a 10-part podcast that explores the science of human learning. To inform these podcasts, Shane followed 10 people learning new things (like swimming, coding, and baking). Shane built on these, calling upon experts from a variety of academic disciplines. In 2016, Shane presented Bright Sparks – an 8-part radio series on Ireland’s national radio station. Bright Sparks asked what happens when you empower clever people to follow their passions. Since 2015, Shane has run Quavers to Quadratics – a programme that sees primary school children play with ideas common to science and music. An experienced researcher, science communicator and moderator, he will also present a podcast series on trust in expertise for PERITIA.

José van Dijck

University of Utrecht

Professor of Media Studies

Prof. José van Dijck, MR, is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht and a prolific author on the topic of digital media and its impact. She is leading the PERITIA research on trust in science in a changing communication landscape. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media technologies, social media, and digital culture. As a Distinguished Professor she also plays a key role in academic and social debates in Netherland and Europe. From 2001 to 2016 she was a professor of Comparative Media Studies where she also served as Chair of the Department of Media Studies from 2002 to 2006, and was the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam between 2008 and 2012. Since 2010 Van Dijck has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2015 to 2018, she served as President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media technologies, social media, and digital culture. In 2016 Dutch magazine Opzij named Van Dijck the most influential Dutch woman of 2016.

Carlo Martini

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Carlo Martini is researching behavioural tools for building trust for PERITIA. He is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Philosophy at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (UNISR) in Italy. His primary research interests are in philosophy of the social sciences and social epistemology. He works on the role of expertise in knowledge transfer from science to policy, on expert disagreement and on public trust in scientific experts. He is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Philosophy of the Social Science, University of Helsinki. Before taking up his post at UNISR (Milan) he was a senior researcher at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, after completing his Ph.D. at the Tilburg Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science in 2011.

Tracey Brown

Sense about Science

Director

Tracey Brown OBE has been the director of Sense about Science (SaS) since 2002. Under her leadership, the charity has turned the case for sound science and evidence into popular campaigns to urge scientific thinking among the public and the people who answer to them. It has launched important initiatives to expand and protect honest discussions of evidence, including AllTrials, a global campaign for the reporting of all clinical trial outcomes; and the Ask for Evidence campaign, which engages the public in requesting evidence for claims. It has challenged opinions and changed the behaviour of governments, media and corporations in the use of scientific evidence. Tracey leads SaS’ work on the transparency of evidence used by governments in policy, to ensure that the public has access to the same evidence and reasoning as decision-makers. With PERITIA Tracey will provide strategic advice and public engagement insights.

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