Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship Lecture: Countering Fake News and Junk Information with Science Communication

Press Release No. 92/2023
20 July 2023

Nature Marsilius Visiting Professor Michele Catanzaro speaks on challenges to democracy

The challenges for democracy represented by fake news and the loss of trust in the media will be the topic of a lecture at Ruperto Carola by Dr Michele Catanzaro. In the present summer semester, the Italian-Spanish journalist is Nature Marsilius Visiting Professor for Science Communication – a joint initiative of Holtzbrinck Berlin, Klaus Tschira Foundation and Heidelberg University. The best defence against wrong information and propaganda is, in Dr Catanzaro’s view, not least a well-founded science journalism, which also encourages critical thinking. The lecture, in English, is entitled “Exhausting our critical thinking. Science journalism against misinformation and for democracy” and will take place on 25 July 2023 in the Great Hall of the Old University, starting at 7pm.

Porträt Michele Catanzaro

According to Michele Catanzaro, communicating research findings is particularly important in times of global crises such as pandemics and climate change. The harmful impacts of disinformation include not only the belief in fake news, the speaker says, but a simultaneous erosion of trust in reliable news. In his lecture he will look at how high-quality science journalism can be fostered and journalistic values upheld in a changing media landscape. In particular with an eye to social media and the use of artificial intelligence, Dr Catanzaro also asks how the public can be supported in switching “from consuming junk information to a healthier diet”.

Michele Catanzaro studied physics in Rome as well as in Barcelona and earned his doctorate there at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya with a thesis on network theories. Since 2001 he has been working as a freelance journalist. His main topics include the environment, health, technology, legal and forensic issues, as well as science policy and academic freedom. The 2016 winner of the title European Science Author of the Year, he teaches in the field of science communication at various universities in Spain. Michele Catanzaro has received multiple awards for his journalistic work.

The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication involves inviting well-known experts to Heidelberg University to hold their own courses at the Marsilius Kolleg on what makes for quality reporting about scholarly research and scientific findings. At the same time, the visiting professors are expected to spark a broad-based discussion about new forms of exchange between academia and the public. Previous holders of the visiting professorship include the science journalists Eva Wolfangel, Ionica Smeets and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim.