Sensational COVID-19 communication erodes confidence in science

covid
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Scientists, policymakers and the media should acknowledge inherent uncertainties in epidemiological models projecting the spread of COVID-19 and avoid “catastrophizing” worst-case scenarios, according to new research from Cornell University.


Threats about dire outcomes may mobilize more people to take public health precautions in the short term but invite criticism and backlash if uncertainties in the models’ data and assumptions are not transparent and later prove flawed, researchers found.

Among political elites, criticism from Democrats in particular may have the unintended consequence of eroding public trust in the use of models to guide pandemic policies and in science more broadly, their research shows.

“Acknowledging that models are grounded in uncertainty is not only the more accurate way to talk about scientific models, but political leaders and the media can do that without also having the effect of undermining confidence in science,” said Sarah Kreps, government professor and

Read More
Read More