Event

May 18, 2021
Pulse Check: Public Communication and Trust in Science

Moderator: Teresa Hollerbach

Panel Talks

Pandemics Past and Present

Laura Spinney

In this talk Laura Spinney will compare and contrast public communication and trust in science in the context of two pandemics—the 1918 flu pandemic and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. She will also explore the subject of pandemic memory, and ask whether the world’s most recent pandemic might lend itself more easily to remembrance than the catastrophe of 1918, because of advances in information technology that happened in the interim.

 

“Democratic” vs. “Authoritarian” Pandemic Containment: The Danger of False Dichotomies

Xifan Yang

After an initial period of cover-up and chaos in Wuhan, China’s communist regime brought the Covid-19 pandemic widely under control in China through draconian policies unseen elsewhere, as well as with test-trace-isolate measures that were similarly applied in democracies such as Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. In this talk, Xifan Yang will outline how the debate around how to combat Covid-19  was highly politicized in both China and the West from the beginning of the pandemic. China’s Communist Party, under pressure from criticism of its early response, was eager to attribute its later success to a proclaimed “superiority” of its political model. By mirroring this narrative and framing comprehensive containment measures blanketly as “authoritarian,” Yang will argue, politicians and media commentators in Western democracies in return set a tone that has prevented their societies from learning valuable lessons from countries in Asia. Since early 2021 the pandemic has entered a phase that poses new risks and chances for both authoritarian and democratic governments. By putting propaganda value over data in its vaccination campaign, the Chinese regime risks losing regained trust from its citizens. Western governments on the other hand can make up failures in containment with speedy vaccinations and increased transparency in public communication, as the Biden administration shows.

Covid Calls

Scott Knowles

 

Panelist Biographies

Contact and Registration

The Institute’s Colloquium occurs once per month during the academic year. For further information about the series, please contact Lisa Onaga and/or Stephanie Hood.

This event will take place online: the meeting link will be sent to Institute members via MPIWG-Announce the day before the event.

A limited number of places are available to external participants—please email public@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de by the day before the event to register.

 

About the Institute's Colloquium Series 2020/21

2021-05-18T14:00:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2021-05-18 14:00:00 2021-05-18 15:30:00 Pulse Check: Public Communication and Trust in Science Moderator: Teresa Hollerbach Panel Talks Pandemics Past and Present Laura Spinney In this talk Laura Spinney will compare and contrast public communication and trust in science in the context of two pandemics—the 1918 flu pandemic and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. She will also explore the subject of pandemic memory, and ask whether the world’s most recent pandemic might lend itself more easily to remembrance than the catastrophe of 1918, because of advances in information technology that happened in the interim.   “Democratic” vs. “Authoritarian” Pandemic Containment: The Danger of False Dichotomies Xifan Yang After an initial period of cover-up and chaos in Wuhan, China’s communist regime brought the Covid-19 pandemic widely under control in China through draconian policies unseen elsewhere, as well as with test-trace-isolate measures that were similarly applied in democracies such as Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. In this talk, Xifan Yang will outline how the debate around how to combat Covid-19  was highly politicized in both China and the West from the beginning of the pandemic. China’s Communist Party, under pressure from criticism of its early response, was eager to attribute its later success to a proclaimed “superiority” of its political model. By mirroring this narrative and framing comprehensive containment measures blanketly as “authoritarian,” Yang will argue, politicians and media commentators in Western democracies in return set a tone that has prevented their societies from learning valuable lessons from countries in Asia. Since early 2021 the pandemic has entered a phase that poses new risks and chances for both authoritarian and democratic governments. By putting propaganda value over data in its vaccination campaign, the Chinese regime risks losing regained trust from its citizens. Western governments on the other hand can make up failures in containment with speedy vaccinations and increased transparency in public communication, as the Biden administration shows. Covid Calls Scott Knowles   Panelist Biographies Laura Spinney Laura Spinney is a writer and science journalist. Her writing on science has appeared in The Guardian, The Economist, Nature and National Geographic, among others. She is the author of two novels, The Doctor (2001) and The Quick (2007), and a collection of oral history, Rue Centrale (2013). Her bestselling non-fiction account of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World (2017), was published in the UK by Jonathan Cape and has been translated into 16 other languages. She lives in Paris. Xifan Yang Xifan Yang (Chinese 杨希璠) was born in Hengyang, an industrial city in the southern Chinese province of Hunan. At the age of four she migrated with her parents to Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany. Later on in Munich, Yang studied psychology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University for a while and started writing at jetzt.de, the youth magazine of Süddeutsche Zeitung. After an apprenticeship at the German School of Journalism in Munich, Yang moved to Shanghai in 2011 to work as a freelance China and Asia correspondent for German-language media such as Stern, GEO and Süddeutsche Zeitung. In 2015 she published her first book “Als die Karpfen fliegen lernten” (Hanser Berlin), a story of the last 80 years of recent Chinese history told through the eyes of her family members. From 2016 until 2017 she worked as an editor at SZ Magazin, the Friday supplement of Süddeutsche Zeitung. Since 2018, Yang has held the position of Beijing Bureau Chief of Germany’s biggest weekly DIE ZEIT. She received the award Deutscher Reporterpreis 2020 in the category "Reportage of the Year." Photo credit: Yang Zhazha. Lisa OnagaStephanie HoodPablo Ruiz de Olano Lisa OnagaStephanie HoodPablo Ruiz de Olano Europe/Berlin public