The way in which people receive and share information has changed rapidly since the introduction of the internet and social media. This has, in some cases, assisted the rise of fake news and misinformation which is challenging the scientific community, policymaking and democracy as we know it. Scientists are trained to undertake impartial research that is built on a strong, theoretical foundation and communicate the results without emotion and injecting a storyline or opinion into research communication is often considered to have the potential to both threaten an individual’s scientific integrity and the reputation of the scientific community as a whole. But with the prevalence of fake news, populism and misinformation increasing, do we as scientists need to re-think the way we communicate our science?
After all, it’s not only facts that influence our individual and societal decision-making, but also values and social relations. Perhaps scientists do need to be trained in emotional literacy and in the use of framing, metaphors and narratives to more effectively communicate their science on an emotional level and reduce the power of those spreading misinformation.
This Great Debate will outline what makes people believe fake news and misinformation and the impact that this has. It will debate how researchers can communicate their research with people who reject traditional science narratives, when scientists should tap into their audiences' emotions and if the apparent choice between “fact” and “feeling” is a false dilemma.
Hazel Gibson (session moderator): EGU Communications Officer
Laura Smillie: Policy Analyst, Joint Research Centre, EU Commission and Project Leader of the Enlightenment 2.0 initiative
Stephan Lewandowsky: Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol with research focusing on misinformation, post-truth deception and climate change.