Fighting pseudoscience with knowledge
Supporting citizen scientists goes beyond training and reflection on practice. One of the goals of REINFORCE is to consolidate the citizen scientists’ communities, paving the road to sustainability beyond the official end of the project. REINFORCE’s understanding of sustainability will be manifested in plans and actions for anchoring, integrating, upholding, continuing, reiterating, monitoring and documenting the implemented measures and the best practices generated. The aim is that, after the end of the project, REINFORCE will evolve into a sustainable think tank, developing services for encouraging the uptake of citizen science by policy-makers and practitioners. For this reason, it will be ensured that the project results will be acknowledged by policy makers and regulators, through actionable recommendations to implement, including expert opinions, recommendations, and analytical research.
The responsibility for the successful outcome of this task will be assigned to the Lisbon Council, a think tank and policy network that has solid competencies in disseminating projects’ results to targeted audiences and in engaging high-level policy stakeholders.
Francesco Mureddu, Director of the Lisbon Council, who boasts extensive expertise in developing recommendations to decision makers and engaging them in research projects, claims that we need to get people closer to science, showing them that anyone who has a strong motivation can give a tangible contribution to it. Furthermore, it is important for citizens to develop a “scientific way of thinking”, so that they will expand their critical sensitivity about all the messages they receive from the scientific community, discouraging in this way pseudoscience and fake news.
Indeed, although citizens are constantly exposed to ongoing scientific and technological breakthroughs through media such as TV, newspapers, blogs or social media, the knowledge and skills needed to be able to comprehend the science behind these discoveries are far beyond an untrained individual’s grasp. This spawns misconceptions and anti-intellectual attitudes about science. In order to lower the susceptibility to such beliefs, REINFORCE will put a concerted effort into increasing scientific literacy.