• Parallel Session D-6
  • Panel

Science, Politics and Social Media

Thursday 16 Nov 2017
7F Mercury

Session Concept:
The relationship between politics and science is changing in many parts of the world with policy-makers ignoring scientific evidence when making decisions that affect their constituents and the whole world. Facts and rationality are being challenged by emotion, belief, pre and post-truths, and not only by policy-makers but also by citizens.

Social media has become a prominent communication channel with a fast and large dissemination power, and yet with a limited possibility to develop sound rationales. Is social media contributing to undermine evidence-based decisions? Or is it a tool to counteract the post-truth phenomenon? How are science centres and museums positioning themselves in this regard?

One of the main roles of science centres and museums is to help citizens grasp the difference between authority-based and science-based statements. How are they adapting their strategies to a new context where the notion of scientific evidence is challenged and where social media acts as an amplifier?


Chevy Humphrey
The Hazel A. Hare President & CEO, Arizona Science Center
United States


Linda Conlon
Immediate Chair, ASTC/Chief Executive, International Centre for Life
United Kingdom
2016 marked the birth of the post-truth era. Sophistry and spin have coloured politics since the dawn of time, but two shock events – the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election as US President, heralded a departure into much darker territory. Science has been a casualty in all of this. How can science centres uniquely separate fact from fiction?
Robert Firmhofer
Chief Executive Officer, Copernicus Science Centre
With the Europeans pressurised by the effects of the financial and the refugee crises, we can observe the growth of populism, which, amplified by social media, polarises the society. Science Centres should become the space for open dialogue in the divided society.
Andrès Roldán
Executive Director, Parque Explora
The peace process in Colombia is at risk because of democratic decisions taken under emotions over arguments. Science centres can create conditions for stimulating critical thinking in citizens supporting informed actions.
Luisa Massarani
Director -Researcher and Science Communicator, RedPOP/ Museum of Life-House of Oswaldo Cruz-Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
In Brazil, social media are an important communication tool for giving voice to citizens about science, in times in which main stream mass media has been partial, and a low cost tool for science centres engage with the public.