Evidence and individual agency in the coronavirus pandemic

The thumbnail for the discussion

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of scientific evidence, but it has also begun to uncover divides within scientific communities themselves. While conspiracy theories and misinformation abound, there is an equally vital discussion to be had on the relationship between scientific evidence, citizen understanding and agency. What sources of scientific evidence should we trust and why? How transparent should scientific models and projections – and the advice following from these models and projections – be, and how are citizens even to interpret this? What are the responsibilities of governments and the media in interpreting and questioning these models, and how is this possible if ministers, advisers and journalists lack proper education in scientific methods? More generally, how is the coronavirus pandemic reshaping our relationship with science and what are the impacts on our individual and collective agency? What can we learn about the relationship between scientific evidence and political decision-making in relation to climate change?

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