Elpiniki PAPPA, State University of Patras, Greece
In 21st century, pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories have spread within all societies, linked to several sciences from Biology and Physics to Psychology and Sociology. Some of them have existed for centuries, while others have been arisen as a by-product of new disciplines. Pseudoscience consists of theories and practices that are presented as scientific, although there is no scientific evidence to support them. Respectively, “conspiracy theories” are defined as theories that attribute the causes or the concealment of notable social or political events to secret plots by several powerful actors. Although we are living in more and more technoscientific based societies, questioning and mistrust towards science and scientists is growing. This paradox has been only considered by a few scientists. Now more than ever, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, such paradox has been rising rapidly. Over time, communication media have played a key role in disseminating pseudoscientific beliefs in modern societies. In the era of COVID-19pandemic, an explosion of communication in the mainstream and social media has been made. People with any kind of authority had the chance to express their views about topics that even for the scientists were still a “mystery box”, creating the conditions for the development of numerous “fake news” and “conspiracy theories”. This presentation aims to shed light on the main communication strategies that have been selected by the official state and prominent personalities to inform public about COVID-19 during the evolution of the pandemic in Greece, as well as their attitude towards pseudoscience. For this purpose, it will be given an overview of the media, platforms and networks that have been used to spread scientific and pseudoscientific messages. Moreover, the dominant misconceptions that have been arisen in Greek society related to COVID-19 will be presented. Ιn an effort to describe this issue in a more comprehensive and vivid way, individual actors will be questioned about their personal stories regarding people support “conspiracy theories” and “anti-vaccine views”. Moreover, they will be asked about their viewpoints regarding the role of different stakeholders on the communication of research findings and scientifically correct information on COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, special mention will be given to the role of science communication during COVID-19pandemic in Greece and the adaptation of strategies used by science communicators. Last but not least, a methodological practice that could be followed by those involved in public understanding of science will be suggested in order to not only counter but also disentangle pseudoscience from science.