SC2.10 | From Misunderstanding to Malice: Countering Mis- and Disinformation
From Misunderstanding to Malice: Countering Mis- and Disinformation
Co-organized by EOS1/GM13
Convener: Kirsten v. Elverfeldt | Co-conveners: Flora Maria BroczaECSECS, Maida Salkanovic, Chloe Hill, Simon ClarkECSECS
| Wed, 17 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room -2.61/62
Wed, 14:00
The research we conduct doesn’t fall into a vacuum. Once published, it enters a large information ecosystem, where we hope that our findings will resonate. As researchers, we devote our whole careers to the study of a narrow field of knowledge. This devotion is not shared by other players in this ecosystem who engage with our research, which might lead to misunderstandings and thus unintentional misinformation. Even others in the ecosystem intentionally seek to spread false information or foster ideologically driven disinformation campaigns. Thus, the players in the ecosystem range from fellow scientists from the same or other disciplines, journalists, politicians, social media influencers, the general public, to troll farms. Clearly, not all of them have or seek an in-depth understanding of the scientific context in which a particular piece of information slots into, and some merely seek to generate attention or outrage with their writing.
Many scientists feel somewhat uneasy in this ecosystem - lacking the tools to engage meaningfully. For example, when talking to journalists, information on the uncertainty of data may not be conveyed for the sake of clear and easy-to-follow storylines. Facts may be simplified or even misrepresented, which might lead to a certain reluctance of scientists to talk to journalists. However, especially this type of direct science-media-interaction is crucial for the debunking of mis- and disinformation.
On the other end of the spectrum is disinformation, which is not a misunderstanding, but happens intentionally: Deliberate false information is a common occurrence that we have all encountered around topics of societal relevance, such as climate change. Real data may be used out of context - or data might be an outright lie, made up for the sake of an argument, presented by questionable ‘experts’. The spread of such disinformation follows a political agenda or a certain ideology. It fosters polarization, disrupts informed decision-making, obstructs constructive dialogue, and subsequently poses a threat to social cohesion and democracy. The extreme end of the mis-/disinformation spectrum are conspiracy theories, which can cause considerable harm to social solidarity and peace.
This short course is a space for researchers to meet with journalists, fact checkers, and media-experienced scientists to provide a platform for questions, mutual understanding and creating a joint force against mis- and disinformation.


  • Chloe Hill: EGU Policy Manager
  • Vitalba Crivello: Science-Policy and Science Communication expert
  • Juha-Pekka Jäpölä: Project Officer, DG for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), European Commission

Programme: Wed, 17 Apr | Room -2.61/62



  • Juha-Pekka Jäpölä, European Commission, Belgium
  • Vitalba Crivello, Belgium