Exploring the Relationship between Trust in Government and Citizen Participation


Paper by Yunsoo Lee and Hindy Lauer Schachter: “Theories of deliberative and stealth democracy offer different predictions on the relationship between trust in government and citizen participation. To help resolve the contradictory predictions, this study used the World Values Survey to examine the influence of trust in government on citizen participation. Regression analyses yielded mixed results. As deliberative democracy theory predicts, the findings showed that people who trust governmental institutions are more likely to vote and sign a petition. However, the data provided limited support for stealth democracy in that trust in government negatively affects the frequency of attending a demonstration….(More)”.

For Crowdsourcing to Work, Everyone Needs an Equal Voice


Joshua Becker and Edward “Ned” Smith in Havard Business Review: “How useful is the wisdom of crowds? For years, it has been recognized as producing incredibly accurate predictions by aggregating the opinions of many people, allowing even amateur forecasters to beat the experts. The belief is that when large numbers of people make forecasts independently, their errors are uncorrelated and ultimately cancel each other out, which leads to more accurate final answers.

However, researchers and pundits have argued that the wisdom of crowds is extremely fragile, especially in two specific circumstances: when people are influenced by the opinions of others (because they lose their independence) and when opinions are distorted by cognitive biases (for example, strong political views held by a group).

In new research, we and our colleagues zeroed in on these assumptions and found that the wisdom of crowds is more robust than previously thought — it can even withstand the groupthink of similar-minded people. But there’s one important caveat: In order for the wisdom of crowds to retain its accuracy for making predictions, every member of the group must be given an equal voice, without any one person dominating. As we discovered, the pattern of social influence within groups — that is, who talks to whom and when — is the key determinant of the crowd’s accuracy in making predictions….(More)”.

Trust and Mistrust in Americans’ Views of Scientific Experts


Report by the Pew Research Center: “In an era when science and politics often appear to collide, public confidence in scientists is on the upswing, and six-inten Americans say scientists should play an active role in policy debates about scientific
issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The survey finds public confidence in scientists on par with confidence in the military. It also exceeds the levels of public confidence in other groups and institutions, including the media, business leaders and elected officials.

At the same time, Americans are divided along party lines in terms of how they view the value and objectivity of scientists and their ability to act in the public interest. And, while political divides do not carry over to views of all scientists and scientific issues, there are particularly sizable gaps between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to trust in scientists whose work is related to the environment.

Higher levels of familiarity with the work of scientists are associated with more positive and more trusting views of scientists regarding their competence, credibility and commitment to the public, the survey shows….(More)”.

For academics, what matters more: journal prestige or readership?


Katie Langin at Science: “With more than 30,000 academic journals now in circulation, academics can have a hard time figuring out where to submit their work for publication. The decision is made all the more difficult by the sky-high pressure of today’s academic environment—including working toward tenure and trying to secure funding, which can depend on a researcher’s publication record. So, what does a researcher prioritize?

According to a new study posted on the bioRxiv preprint server, faculty members say they care most about whether the journal is read by the people they most want to reach—but they think their colleagues care most about journal prestige. Perhaps unsurprisingly, prestige also held more sway for untenured faculty members than for their tenured colleagues.

“I think that it is about the security that comes with being later in your career,” says study co-author Juan Pablo Alperin, an assistant professor in the publishing program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. “It means you can stop worrying so much about the specifics of what is being valued; there’s a lot less at stake.”

According to a different preprint that Alperin and his colleagues posted on PeerJ in April, 40% of research-intensive universities in the United States and Canada explicitly mention that journal impact factors can be considered in promotion and tenure decisions. More likely do so unofficially, with faculty members using journal names on a CV as a kind of shorthand for how “good” a candidate’s publication record is. “You can’t ignore the fact that journal impact factor is a reality that gets looked at,” Alperin says. But some argue that journal prestige and impact factor are overemphasized and harm science, and that academics should focus on the quality of individual work rather than journal-wide metrics. 

In the new study, only 31% of the 338 faculty members who were surveyed—all from U.S. and Canadian institutions and from a variety of disciplines, including 38% in the life and physical sciences and math—said that journal prestige was “very important” to them when deciding where to submit a manuscript. The highest priority was journal readership, which half said was very important. Fewer respondents felt that publication costs (24%) and open access (10%) deserved the highest importance rating.

But, when those same faculty members were asked to assess how their colleagues make the same decision, journal prestige shot to the top of the list, with 43% of faculty members saying that it was very important to their peers when deciding where to submit a manuscript. Only 30% of faculty members thought the same thing about journal readership—a drop of 20 percentage points compared with how faculty members assessed their own motivations….(More)”.

Political innovation, digitalisation and public participation in party politics


Paper by Lisa Schmidthuber; Dennis Hilgers and Maximilian Rapp: “Citizen engagement is seen as a way to address a range of societal challenges, fiscal constraints, as well as wicked problems, and increasing public participation in political decisions could help to address low levels of trust in politicians and decreasing satisfaction with political parties. This paper examines the perceived impacts of an experiment by the Austrian People’s Party which, in response to reaching a historic low in the polls, opened up its manifesto process to public participation via digital technology. Analysis of survey data from participants found that self-efficacy is positively associated with participation intensity but negatively related to satisfaction. In contrast, collective efficacy is related to positive perceptions of public participation in party politics but does not influence levels of individual participation. Future research is needed to explore the outcomes of political innovations that use digital technologies to enable public participation on voting behaviour, party membership and attitudes to representative democracy….(More)”.

Understanding our Political Nature: How to put knowledge and reason at the heart of political decision-making


EU report by Rene Van Bavel et al: “Recognising that advances in behavioural, decision and social sciences demonstrate that we are not purely rational beings, this report brings new insights into our political behaviour and this understanding have the potential to address some of the current crises in our democracies. Sixty experts from across the globe working in the fields of behavioural and social sciences as well as the humanities, have contributed to the research that underpins this JRC report that calls upon evidence-informed policymaking not to be taken for granted. There is a chapter dedicated to each key finding which outlines the latest scientific thinking as well as an overview of the possible implications for policymaking. The key findings are:

  • Misperception and Disinformation: Our thinking skills are challenged by today’s information environment and make us vulnerable to disinformation. We need to think more about how we think.
  • Collective Intelligence: Science can help us re-design the way policymakers work together to take better decisions and prevent policy mistakes.
  • Emotions: We can’t separate emotion from reason. Better information about citizens’ emotions and greater emotional literacy could improve policymaking.
  • Values and Identities drive political behaviour but are not properly understood or debated.
  • Framing, Metaphor and Narrative: Facts don’t speak for themselves. Framing, metaphors and narratives need to be used responsibly if evidence is to be heard and understood.
  • Trust and Openness: The erosion of trust in experts and in government can only be addressed by greater honesty and public deliberation about interests and values.
  • Evidence-informed policymaking: The principle that policy should be informed by evidence is under attack. Politicians, scientists and civil society need to defend this cornerstone of liberal democracy….(More)”

The Impact of Citizen Environmental Science in the United States


Paper by George Wyeth, Lee C. Paddock, Alison Parker, Robert L. Glicksman and Jecoliah Williams: “An increasingly sophisticated public, rapid changes in monitoring technology, the ability to process large volumes of data, and social media are increasing the capacity for members of the public and advocacy groups to gather, interpret, and exchange environmental data. This development has the potential to alter the government-centric approach to environmental governance; however, citizen science has had a mixed record in influencing government decisions and actions. This Article reviews the rapid changes that are going on in the field of citizen science and examines what makes citizen science initiatives impactful, as well as the barriers to greater impact. It reports on 10 case studies, and evaluates these to provide findings about the state of citizen science and recommendations on what might be done to increase its influence on environmental decisionmaking….(More)”,

From Hippocrates to Artificial Intelligence: Moving Towards a Collective Intelligence


Carlos María Galmarini at Open Mind: “Modern medicine is based upon the work of Hippocrates and his disciples and is compiled in more than 70 books comprising the Hippocratic body of work. In its essence, these writings declare that any illness originates with natural causes. Therefore, medicine must be based on detailed observation, reason, and experience in order to establish a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. The Hippocratic tradition stresses the importance of the symptoms and the clinical exam. As a result, medicine abandoned superstition and the magic performed by priest-doctors, and it was transformed into a real, experience-based science….

A complementary combination of both intelligences (human and artificial) could help overcome the other’s shortcomings and limitations. As we incorporate intelligent technologies into medical processes, a new, more powerful form of collaboration will emerge. Analogous to the past when the automation of human tasks completely changed the known world and ignited an evolution in the offering of products and services, the combination of human and artificial intelligence will create a new type of collective intelligence capable of building more efficient organizations, and in the healthcare industry, it will be able to solve problems that until now have been unfathomable to the human mind alone.

Finally, it is worth remembering that fact based sciences are divided into natural and human disciplines. Medicine occupies a special place, straddling both. It can be difficult to establish the similarities between a doctor who works, for example, with rules defined by specific clinical trials and a traditional family practitioner. The former would be more related to a natural science, and the latter with a more human science – “the art of medicine.”

The combination of human and artificial intelligence in a new type of collective intelligence will enable doctors themselves to be a combination of the two. In other words, the art of medicine – human science – based on the analysis of big data – natural science. A new collective intelligence working on behalf of a wiser medicine….(More)”.

Participatory Citizenship and Crisis in Contemporary Brazil


Book by Valesca Lima: “This book discusses the issues of citizen rights, governance and political crisis in Brazil. The project has a focus on “citizenship in times of crisis,” i.e., seeking to understand how citizenship rights have changed since the Brazilian political and economic crisis that started in 2014. Building on theories of citizenship and governance, the author examines policy-based evidence on the retractions of participatory rights, which are consequence of a stagnant economic scenario and the re-organization of conservative sectors. This work will appeal to scholarly audiences interested in citizenship, Brazilian politics, and Latin American policy and governance….(More)”.

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions


Katherine R. Knobloch at Democratic Audit: “Both scholars and citizens have begun to believe that democracy is in decline. Authoritarian power grabs, polarising rhetoric, and increasing inequality can all claim responsibility for democratic systems that feel broken. Democracy depends on a polity who believe that their engagement matters, but evidence suggests democratic institutions have become unresponsive to the will of the public. How can we restore faith in self-government when both research and personal experience tell us that the public is losing power, not gaining it?

Deliberative public engagement

Deliberative democracy offers one solution, and it’s slowly shifting how the public engages in political decision-making. In Oregon, the Citizens’ Initiative Review(CIR) asks a group of randomly selected voters to carefully study public issues and then make policy recommendations based on their collective experience and insight. In Ireland, Citizens’ Assemblies are being used to amend the country’s constitution to better reflect changing cultural norms. In communities across the world, Participatory Budgeting is giving the public control over local government spending. Far from squashing democratic power, these deliberative institutions bolster it. They exemplify a new wave in democratic government, one that aims to bring community members together across political and cultural divides to make decisions about how to govern themselves.

Though the contours of deliberative events vary, most share key characteristics. A diverse body of community members gather together to learn from experts and one another, think through the short- and long-term implications of different policy positions, and discuss how issues affect not only themselves but their wider communities. At the end of those conversations, they make decisions that are representative of the diversity of participants and their ideas and which have been tested through collective reasoning….(More)”.