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Report on the MSE workshop

The MSE group had the great pleasure of hosting an online workshop on 1st December 2020. Here is a brief report on the workshop’s proceedings.

The workshop consisted of three parts:

  1. A kick-off keynote presentation by Prof. Massimiano Bucchi of the University of Trento who presented on the topic “Science communication as the social conversation around science”. The presentation provided an overview of theories and models in the evolving field of science communication, highlighting new mediatized moments of science communication relating to COVID-19, and considering their implications.
    The ensuing dialogue circled around how science has moved to the vernacular web, how to communicate about COVID-19 effectively, the visibility of scientists as boundary objects, the evolving role of scientists as communicators, the media’s role in science communication, science communication officers mediating between scientists and the public, the festive mode of science communication, “t-shirt” scientists, cultural worldviews and ideologies, identifying with the messenger, and the prevalence of the diffusionist model of science communication in some countries.
  2. The MSE group presented their most recent findings. Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo demonstrated a method to investigate semantic patterns in Danish web archive data relating to MMR and mistrust. Niels Brügger presented his study on conspiracy theories and vaccine hesitancy, where he analysed Danish web archive data using a network analytical approach. Antoinette Fage-Butler, on behalf of Loni Ledderer, Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen and herself, presented their approach to doing a systematic meta-narrative literature review on research relating to trust/mistrust and climate change science.
    The discussions on the presentations revolved around methods, the distinction between vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaxxers, social media websites in web archive data, the number of websites included in the network analysis, and the dynamic perspective in the literature review as research narratives evolve over time.
  3. The third session involved a plenary where participants spoke to each other in break-out groups. The groups reported lively discussions on a range of issues including trust/mistrust as an emotional base layer for cognitive processes relating to scientific content, how to communicate scientific uncertainty effectively, the need for a multidisciplinary approach to mistrust that benefits both the sciences and social sciences, that trusting societies are quiet while mistrusting societies are noisy, the question of where to situate trust, building support for science by explaining scientific method and uncertainty, the algorithmisation of mistrust by search engines, and epistocracies vs. chumocracies…

Thanks so much to everyone for participating and contributing on the day!