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Within Reason: Trusting science in a time of crisis

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In a special National Science Week edition of our Dean’s Lecture Series, four speakers will explore how and why people trust – or distrust – science during crises. Why do people deny or ignore the science of climate change, or the miracle of vaccines? How does a jury decide which forensic evidence to trust? And what if we trust science, and it turns out to be wrong?


  • Professor David Balding will ask who checks the reliability of forensic science in a criminal trial, and how we maintain trust in science while also probing flaws and debunking pseudo-science.
  • Dr Jessica Kaufman will discuss communicating science in a pandemic, focusing on the principles of risk communication and readying the public for vaccine acceptance.
  • Professor Fiona Fidler will talk about bias and self-correction in science, including several reasons to suspect that science’s self-correction mechanisms are breaking down and what we need to do to rebuild them.
  • Dr Kate Dooley will analyse the unavoidably political nature of climate science and how understanding politicisation of science can be used to shine a light on who wins and who loses, and how we can overcome barriers to acting on science.


Dr Graham Phillips - Graham was the host and a producer-reporter for many years on ABC television’s long-running science program Catalyst. He began his career as a scientist, with a PhD in astrophysics, is currently teaching science communication at the University of Melbourne.