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Italy united for scientific information

Goya
"F. Goya: The sleep of Reason produces monster"

Introduction:

The event “Italy united for scientific information” arises from some people belonging or close to Pro-Test Italia, a group devoted to scientific divulgation, and it has the purpose of facing the Italian problems about scientific culture. Some recent episodes (stem cell case, occupation of the animal facility in Milan and many others) have made it clear and urgent the necessity of establishing an open dialogue between researchers, universities, mass media and common people. It often happens that the information media are giving more relevance to the emotionality rather than the scientific accuracy: if it is true that the humane and ethical aspects of every matter should always be taken into account, it is fundamental to consider also this second aspect. For this reason, the aim of the event is to open the dialogue on these important topics, that are having and will have strong repercussions on the future of our Nation concerning health, feeding and environment, so that the scientific aspect will have a major role, and not just a bystander.
Bruno Bozzetto
"Bruno Bozzetto for Italia Unita per la Scienza"

Program and summary of the schedule

The event consists of a series of conferences, taking place contemporarily in different cities, about the topics of scientific disinformation and the state of research in Italy. The most cheap and easy way to realize this event is to make every city partially independent in its organization, after having established an organizational nucleus and having appointed some people in charge. The idea is to start the event with a general introductive speech about scientific disinformation and the state of research in Italy (recorder video o streaming), to be exposed by a prominent character known by the public. Afterward, every city will have autonomy about proposing and managing the topics, under the control of selected supervisors. The main themes will be:

  • Animal research
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Stem cells and other medical frauds
  • Vaccination and autism
  • Seismology and previsions
  • Chemtrails

Some topics, such as animal research and genetically modified organisms, are mandatory for every location, while the others will be discussed just in some cities and their choice will depend mainly on the availability of lecturers and on the attitude of universities involved. Other suggested expositions, of general interest and not strictly related to a specific theme, can be regarding the importance of sources (how to understand if the one who is talking has the qualification to do it) and the scientific hoaxes, two themes that are becoming more and more relevant in the age of social networks

Planning and aims

The event is not intended to be a “lesson” on behalf of scientists/professors to the people to “educate”, but it is meant to be an open debate. The purpose of this event is to show our colors and try to simplify complex topics as much as possible, opening a discussion finalized to make clear, where possible, how the science and the scientific method are unavoidable means to reach a discriminating view. We will try to demystify news, refuting the popular convictions in a scientific and logic attitude, by starting from data that are visible, real and, when possible, also easily verifiable by the public (i.e. images, daily experiences etc.). Although there are evidences of huge gaps in the scientific knowledge in most of the population, the act of simply accusing popular ignorance and presenting incontrovertible truth are the best way to turn a well organized event into a complete failure. For these reasons, every lecture/exposition should have the following aims:
  • To explain the happening in a clear and short way
  • To explain the reasons why such news circulate fast
  • To let the audience understand clearly which are the two opposite outlooks
  • To explain how only the proofs and the debate are valid methods to validate a theory, allowing the listener to draw his own conclusions.

  • Moreover we suggest to refer to previous and recent happenings in Italy in which scientific hoaxes where given too much credit. It’s not easy to elucidate these topics to a public not used to them, especially for those who are accustomed to talk about scientific themes to a “scientific audience” feeling comfortable when reasoning according the scientific method. Since it is very difficult to unify all these elements in an organic, coherent and not boring speech, the contribution of professors and researchers working in the field is a great help, as well as the support of people specialized in journalism and scientific divulgation are absolutely essential. The ideal situation for each city would be to have lecturers coming from either the world of research and teaching or from journalism and scientific divulgations (even youngs).

    Program of the day

    Every city has its own specific program, so the program can vary a lot between different cities. Overall, the day of 8th June will be generally structured in 3 events: a flashmob, a conference and a manifestation.
    1. Flashmob – freeze: (in the morning)
      A flashmob is an event in which people meet in a public space with the aim of perform an unusual action. It will help to draw the attentionon the meaning of the event. Many different cities are preparing different flashmobs. Flashmobs have the peculiarity of attracting crowds and capturing media attention, giving the event an important echo.

    2. Conference: (in many cities it will take place in the afternoon)
      Every coordination group created for each city, according to the availability of the lecturers and the duration of the presentations, will evaluate the most adequate timing, eventually starting earlier or finishing later than the fixed time, in case the number of topics to be discussed and the duration of the lectures should exceed those indicated. It will be necessary to find a volunteer lecturer per topic, choosing among the following:
      • Animal research
      • Genetically Modified Organisms
      • Stem cell frauds (but also Di Bella case, Simoncini case etc.)
      • Vaccination and autism
      • Seismology and previsions (the case of “the man who predicted earthquakes”)
      • Chemtrails

      Other topics (some of which are already suggested in the poster) will be accepted, given that they are reported to the organizers. The important thing to keep in mind is that this day has to be focused on the demolition of people’s wrong certainties about science. Particular attention will be paid to the topics of Animal Research and Genetically Modified Organisms, that surely have been the most manipulated topics lately. Lectures/presentations are particularly aimed at debunking and unmasking the false statements of the common belief, and also at addressing to recent media cases, as already specified in the poster

    3. Evening event: (around 21:30-22:30, depending on the city)
      This is meant to be a brief “closing event” for the day. An event conceived to symbolically represent the rebirth of a serious scientific debate made of data, reality and true science, after a long time in which too much space has been dedicated to sensationalistic and pseudoscientific news. It has to be clear: the reference to the situation of the research and of the scientific disinformation; the fundamental role of divulgation and of the scientific method to reawaken reason; the message by which all Italy has to cooperate to overcome this difficult situation. People will be equipped with lights, candles and torches and they will gather in the square (possibly with their labcoats on) in order to demonstrate in defense of correct information and against the falsity disguising itself under the appearance of science. Light will represent the hope in this Italian dark period, the reason that prevails on sensationalism and prejudice.

    Aims of the event:

    • To ask citizenry to Judge/evaluate science on the basis of facts and results and not on the basis of prejudice, in a mutual debate founded on transparency and respect.
    • To solicit media to produce a fair, balanced and fact-based coverage of news on scientific themes.
    • To ask institutions to responsibly take a stand about scientific themes.
    • To promote, in the public opinion, in the media and in the institutions, the disapproval of any extremistic act against research, in particular against animal research and agricultural biotechnologies.

    Collaborations and lecturers:

    We are looking for the contribution of students, professors, researchers, universities and associations (not necessarily related to the scientific field) in order to create local committees to logistically organize a conference or to propose possible lecturers to the central organization.

    Contacts

    E-Mail

    [email protected]

    Web Pages

    www.facebook.com/ProTestItalia
    www.italiaxlascienza.it
Code by Lorenzo Rossi, Gianluca Colombo Graphics by Stefano Torregrossa