The Scientific Controversy on Covid-19 and the Image of Science as an Expert System: Comparing the Debate in Italy and UK


The theoretical context of this article refers to the relations between expert systems and public opinion, according to an approach that describes how scientists' knowledge is questioned during serious globalized crises, such as epidemics and pandemics. In this regard, a typology of Italian and UK Twitter profiles was proposed in order to define the role of scientists in the debate around Covid-19, and to answer to what appear to be relevant research questions: What are the main scientific issues of the controversy? How is shaped the multifaceted pro-vax front? What image of science as an expert system emerges in the debate on Covid-19? To do that, a web-ethnography was performed, based on the analysis of some Italian/UK Twitter profiles of scientists, analysing a selection of interactions generated around them. The main research results are presented with reference to 'pro-vax' emerging profiles (a less studied context than the 'anti-vax' front), trying to illustrate the complexity of the dispute and the adequacy of discourse about science. In the end, the authors suggest that the idea of science as a 'truth' that people should simply trust - overly simplistic in the past - is not entirely plausible in today's public debate in social networks.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v15i3p530

Keywords: Controversy; Covid-19; expert systems; scientific method; social media; social network


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