Alexandre SCHIELE, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Michelle RIEDLINGER, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Germana BARATA, State University of Campinas, Brazil
Elpiniki PAPPA, University of Patras, Greece
Isabelle GOUDOU, University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada
This symposium will bring together specialists of science communication and science-society relations from various nationalities with the aim of discussing the complex relations of political, scientific, media and individual and collective voices and their effects on publics in a communication ecosystem with far fewer gatekeepers, and in which all voices and discourses not merely claim legitimacy but can potentially reach anyone equally. And thus, in which truth and falsehood, science, pseudoscience and antiscience coexist, interact, and compete for visibility.
The past forty years or so have been a golden age of science communication, which largely mirrors the unprecedented pace of the development and democratization of technosciences, the pervasiveness of interconnectivity, and the dominance of tech companies. And yet, the past year and a half has seen a global pandemic with no equivalent in living memory. The paradox is that the Covid 19 pandemic spawned an explosion of communication, an explosion not only amplified by the media, social networks and government voices, but intermeshing science, pseudoscience and antiscience to the point of being in some cases indissociable from another. A paradox which science communication had barely considered but must now tackle head-on.
Crises, such as the current Covid 19 pandemic, are moments of great uncertainty, spawning intense communication activities and making the paradox more acute than ever. And not only do ill-prepared authorities send a flurry of contradictory messages, various voices (political figures, media personalities and private individuals taking to social media) not merely minimize but also alternatively negate and amplifiy the pandemic, often looking for scapegoats, and even peddling quack remedies and denouncing wide-ranging conspiracies. This does not merely slow and undermine the enforcement of science-based measures, but also leads some to confront those enforcing them.
The symposium will take place in two steps. First, individual participants will present, from the standpoint of their individual areas of expertise, the specific situation in the national context(s) they are most familiar with, discussing the evolution of the pandemic and the official response; the evolution of the main (individual, collective or institutional) actors, platforms and discourses; the evolution of rhetorical and communication strategies; the influence – and its evolution – of foreign actors, discourses and debates upon the national debate; and the evolution of the impact on publics. Second, the proposal will collectively debate in order to abstract the common features of the Covid 19 communication ecosystem, identify the main trends and counter trends, and propose potential communication solutions to not only counter pseudoscience and antiscience but also disentangle science from pseudoscience and antiscience. At the end of each step, the public will be invited to actively participate and weigh in.