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iwrd4 karma

Hey there, thanks for doing this AMA!

I’m studying media and communications and want to write my thesis in part about transparency and trust around information about covid disseminated in the media.

I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about how these studies (particularly those which demonstrate flaws or conflicts of interest) are represented in the media?

There is a dynamic in health communications in which the scientists produce facts which media producers and journalists represent in comprehensible terms for audiences, who are encouraged to trust in both institutions and act according to medical expertise. This dynamic relies on trust in media and medicine, and i think it is evident during this pandemic that trust in both is eroding—as your paper shows, with good reason.

What do you think the role of the media is in disseminating this kind of information to the public? And how in this context do science and the media work together to breed distrust and information fatigue?

I know these are questions you could write a whole seperate paper about (and i might do just that) but i’d love to hear your thoughts :)

iwrd1 karma

Ah I understand. And yes I agree, though it is basically anecdotal, that lay people are generally more interested and engaged with science because they trust the information it offers.

I was unclear I suppose, I meant trust is eroding among groups of people, not society as a whole. And that it’s important to address these groups and what dynamics are producing them, even if they don’t represent a majority. Im interested in things like the commercialisation and politicisation of health and knowledge, for example.

iwrd1 karma

Maybe you misinterpreted or I misrepresented. I'm referring more to the groundswell of climate change denialists, people who believe the pandemic isn't real, that vaccines contain microchips which will be used to control them or will give their children autism. WHO alongside the pandemic has called this an infodemic, in which unreliable and unsubstantiated information is being spread and acted upon by people around the world. One paper was published linking vaccines to autism, which was found to be illegitimate, and there are still thousands of people globally subscribing to this belief and that all research to the contrary is part of some orchestrated effort to mask truth. I definitely agree with you on the impossible expectations surrounding science, but things like vaccines and hydroxychloroquine show the selecition bias through which a lot of people subscribe to medical research, even when it goes contrary to the longer term concensus of scientists.

iwrd1 karma

thanks, I may take you up on that offer a bit down the road, haven’t finalised my area yet! We’ve got an Australian-Swedish academic affinity, i did my undergrad in Sydney and am now studying in Lund :)

iwrd1 karma

Yeah it’s a problem but not an easy one. Especially when institutional support for good science is labelled as censorship and when we have networks like Murdoch media completely politicising a health issue. The waters are muddy. Thanks for doing your part to try clear them up!