Big, If True Webinar: The Trouble with Science

Big, If True Webinar: The Trouble with Science

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May 18, 2020, 10:24 am

Friday, May 15, 2020 – This week on BIG, If True our host Joan Donovan dives into the promises and perils of communicating science to public audiences. While trust in our politicians and the press has waned in recent years, trust in scientists has remained remarkably steady. However, as we chart out new uncertainties and complex facts and figures in a pandemic, we wonder: is trust in science eroding? How are science journalists and educators dispelling misinformation and tempering fear? Why don’t facts go viral on social media? And, what resources and platforms can help marshal facts and good science? 

In this episode, we’ll talk with Jane C. Hu, a regular contributor to Slate’s Future Tense, and Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, co-creators of AsapSCIENCE, a YouTube channel that produces weekly videos about science and all the accompanying weird questions and persistent rumors that come with it. Together, we’ll discuss the role of science communication in helping the general public steer a safe course against pseudoscience and misinformation.

Jane C. Hu has recently been writing about COVID-19 and investigating the bits and pieces of misinformation discarded along the way, including; “No, You Did Not Get COVID-19 in the Fall of 2019”, “We Can’t Reopen the Country without Better Contact Tracing” and “The Panic Over Chinese People Doesn’t Come from Coronavirus.” Jane’s writing has also appeared in WIRED, High Country News, National Geographic, Scientific American, and The Atlantic.

Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown’s YouTube channel, AsapSCIENCE, has amassed 9.3 million subscribers to date. As of late, Mitchell and Gregory have been covering a wide array of topical subjects that tackle coronavirus misinformation, such as; “Is Hydroxychloroquine The New Coronavirus Cure?” “Are Young People Safe?” and “The Coronavirus Vaccine Explained.” Using animated illustrations and voice-over narration, AsapScience is helping cut through the noise by delivering compelling and accessible videos for general audiences.


Hosted by Joan Donovan, PhDBIG, If True is a seminar series presented by the Technology and Social Change Research Project (TaSC) at the Shorenstein Center.

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Dr. Donovan’s research specializes in Critical Internet Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and the Sociology of Social Movements. Dr. Donovan’s research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ABC News, NBC News, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, Nature, and more.

The TaSC Project researches media manipulation, disinformation, political communication, and technology’s relationship to society. The research team is composed of subject matter experts, Brian Friedberg, an investigative ethnographer of online social worlds, Gabrielle Lim, a researcher of sociotechnical systems and information controls, and Rob Faris, co-author of Network Propaganda and researcher of large-scale media ecosystems. The TaSC Project aims to understand how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. The project conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. The project is creating a research platform called the Media Manipulation Case Book, which will include 100 case studies to advance our knowledge of how misinformation travels across the web and platforms.