Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off and retooling to relaunch in a new format early 2024.

EP78: Misinformed: The Lab Leak & the Politics of Misinformation (ft. Branko Marcetic & Nicole M. Krause)

That was a bit of a 180°, wasn’t it? The COVID-19 lab leak theory went from being dismissed as mere misinformation, to now a credible matter of debate amongst media, scientific, and intelligence organizations. What’s changed, and what does this teach us about science journalism and science communication? Is it time to let go of our obsession over “misinformation”? First, Jacobin staff writer Branko Marcetic lays out the political problems with the idea of misinformation. Later, Nicole M. Krause, a PhD candidate focussing on science communication, looks at conceptual problems in the research itself. What’s “True,” and who gets to decide?

Further reading: From Marcetic, his latest in the Nation is on the Twitter files. If you want to dig into Krause’s research ideas in science communication, a couple of things we’d recommend: on public pathologies in the public understanding of science, on misinformation and the infodemic (open access), and on the ethics of misinformation (open access). The Steven Shapin article we read about science communication with “warts-and-all” is worth checking out.

This is part of a series looking at medical controversies and the politics of medicine. It received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Dr. Maya Goldenberg and Dr. Maxwell J. Smith are scholarly advisors to the project, with research from Yoshiyuki Miyasaka. For a full list of credits of Cited Media staff, visit our about page.

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