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Policy Paper

Telling Facts from Fakes

The Israeli Science Communication Community and its Role in Supporting a Fact-Based Public Discourse in Israel during the COVID-19 Infodemic and Beyond
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Communicating science is challenging at the best of times. It is not easy to take scientific studies and communicate them within the right framework, keeping them accurate and reliable yet appealing and relevant to readers. Normally, Science also makes up only a tiny portion of the content covered by media and consumed by the public. The COVID-19 crisis has created new challenges: on one hand, an enormous demand for information about this new and frightening disease; on the other, scanty reliable data on which to base decisions, as well as contradictory findings and a tsunami of misinformation in social media and political messaging. 

In Israel, these challenges arose in the midst of an ongoing political crisis and were aggravated by poor communication by the Ministry of Health. COVID-19 has generated not only a health crisis but also a potential confidence crisis between the public and the scientific community.

Israel’s fledgling science communication community lacks the long tradition of its counterparts in countries like England or Germany. However, it is growing fast and offering creative solutions to the need for reliable, understandable science.

This policy paper offers an overview of the Israeli digital science communication and journalism scene, lists the challenges to science communication that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis, describes the ongoing efforts to counter the resulting distrust among public, and proposes how things could have been done differently. The paper concludes with suggestions on how to bolster public trust in science and effectively battle the infodemic, namely by creating a center that would disseminate accurate information and publicly debunk false claims for the benefit of decision-makers, the media and the general public.

Product details
Date of Publication
February 2021
Israel Public Policy Institute
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

Executive Summary

01 Introduction

02 The Challenges of Science Communication in a Pandemic

     2.1 Main Actors Informing the Public on COVID-19

     2.2 Limitations of the Scientific Method and Their Impact on the Infodemic

03 A Science-Media Center as a Possible Solution

04 Concluding Remarks