Giuseppe PELLEGRINI, Observa Science in Society, Italy
Andrea RUBIN, Observa Science in Society, Italy
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the issue of credibility and reliability of information is central for science communication and public understanding of science. Traditional and digital media are accused, by many independent researchers and influential observers, to have played a significant role in the spread of science misinformation. In the last decade, the circulation of fake news on the media has sparked a broad debate with social, political, economic and scientific implications. We realized a public consultation involving 93 citizens and addressing four science-related controversial topics to explore dimensions as trust in science, citizens opinions about science, sources of information they use, and how they think can science communication could be more effective.
This paper presents results from the Italian public consultation and analysis on how Italian citizens oriented in science communication, define the multifaceted notion of misinformation, approach and evaluate scientific sources. The study made it possible to verify the level of confidence of the participants in various forms and channels of communication, highlighting that there are significant differences between issues related to health such as vaccines and alternative and complementary medicines and issues related to the environment such as climate change. An important role of offline communication also emerges, which allows us to overcome certain certainties that often reinforce the rhetoric of digital supremacy. The results showed the widely-shared perception of poor science communication, declined along a continuum from milder to more severe forms of misinformation. The results highlighted the prominent role of personal criteria for selecting information channels and evaluating information sources.
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