Trustworthy Science

In our highly technological society, people are often confronted with complicated questions. Do I really want to vaccinate my daughter against cervical cancer? Is it really safe to store carbon dioxide beneath my house? What do we actually know about climate change and what does it mean for me personally?

Such issues are often accompanied by contradictory information. Much information can be found online, often of an alarming nature. This information comes from all kinds of sources, but contradictory statements are made by the academic community, too. Some experts claim that a certain type of technology is safe, while others call this in question. In a situation with much uncertainty and little control, people will have to rely on others, for example, experts, knowledge institutes or politicians. How can these actors increase their reliability? For instance, can trustworthy science be combined with funding from commercial parties? Would it help to enter into dialogue with fervent objectors to certain technologies or would it be better to ignore them? Should science be open about any uncertainties, or firmly proclaim a clear standpoint?

These and other questions will be elaborated on in the coming period, based on a number of case studies. A comparison will be made with countries outside of the Netherlands, too. How were comparable controversies dealt with over there? Examples of institutes and sources that have a long history of reliability will be looked at, for example airline companies.