Category: expertise

Are experts complicit in making their advice easy for politicians to ignore?

The role of experts in policymaking and debates over the extent to which politicians are being ‘led by the science’ have become prominent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Christiane Gerblinger argues that, rather than being a simple case of …

The public places more trust in scientists and politicians, when they appear individually, rather than together, to communicate COVID-19 public health measures

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians have been accompanied by scientists when communicating the need for anti-contagion measures. In this post, Mike Farjam discusses the results of a joint Italian/Swedish experiment into public attitudes towar…

Has the pandemic changed public attitudes about science?

Drawing on survey evidence from several western countries, Eric Allen Jensen, Aaron M. Jensen, Axel Pfleger, Eric B. Kennedy and Ethan Greenwood find that COVID-19 has coincided with a general rise in public trust in science and scientists. Based on this re-affirmed public trust, they suggest there is a new window of opportunity to accelerate … Continued

Book Review: Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure and Expertise edited by Brinda Sarathy, Vivien Hamilton and Janet Farrell Brodie

In Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure and Expertise, editors Brinda Sarathy, Vivien Hamilton and Janet Farrell Brodie bring together contributors in a timely call to place ‘toxicity’ back at the centre of public health discussions, exploring different toxic landscapes in North America and Japan to denaturalise the presence of inorganic contaminants in an environment. Revealing toxicity as the outcome … Continued

To shape policy with evidence, we should celebrate both good practice and good theory

As the famous saying attributed to Kurt Lewin goes, “there is nothing as practical as a good theory”. In this post James Georgalakis makes the case that bridging the gap between theory and practice is not simply a matter of more refined communication, but of creating structures in which policy influencers and academics can productively … Continued

Podcast: Has social science influenced the policy response to COVID-19?

The latest episode of LSE IQ poses the question: What’s the point of social science in a pandemic? When governments across the world were forced to take unprecedented measures in response to COVID-19 in 2020, much attention was focused on the teams of scientific and medical experts assembled to advise and develop national policy responses. … Continued

For COVID-19 vaccination programmes to be effective history shows gender equality in science is necessary

Drawing on the history of public health and anti-vaccination movements in 19th and 20th century Britain, Susan McPherson outlines how the sidelining of academics along gender lines during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted efforts to develop and communicate scientific expertise and build public trust in the effectiveness of potential COVID-19 vaccines. In March 2020, … Continued

‘The government is following the science’: Why is the translation of evidence into policy generating so much controversy?

In the UK, the government has presented itself as guided by scientific evidence in its policy responses to COVID-19. This has led to science, in particular epidemiology, itself becoming politicised and contested. However, neither the politicisation of science nor questions surrounding the status of evidence are new. In this post, Luis Pérez-González, outlines how a … Continued