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Enlightenment upside down?: The science of risk and rumour in global health

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Professor Heidi Larson, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health – Inaugural Lecture and Reception

Enlightenment upside down? The science of risk and rumour  in global health

As a community of researchers, we aim to bring reason and evidence to solve global health challenges.  The rational approaches to investigate and solve health challenges, though, are falling short of addressing the Increasingly sceptical and emotion-based decision-making around health interventions.  Can we trust the vaccine or treatment? Can we trust those who are delivering them?  Why does the government focus on one health intervention more than another? What is their motive?

Decision-making is further complicated by the amount of misinformation as well as manipulated and false information the circulate on social media.  Rumours are an age-old challenge in clinical trials, as well as in health campaigns such as eradication and elimination efforts, but the spread and reach of rumours are moving faster and farther than ever.

In my inaugural lecture, I will share some new ways to approach and think about what is a complex and fast moving challenge. It needs multiple disciplines from big data  and  geospatial mapping to psychology and anthropology to understand the emotions, culture and politics that are challenging rationale thinking, with public health consequences.


Watch the session