Dr. Barbara Osimani: Science as the Weapon of Mass Distraction (The Virus Warfare)

Prof. Barbara Osimani is Director of the Center for Philosophy, Science, and Policy and Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Polytechnic University of the Marche, Italy. She has been recently heading an ERC project, which also ran at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, LMU: "Philosophy of Pharmacology: Safety, Statistical Standards, and Evidence Amalgamation" (GA StG 639276). She is an ordinary member of the Open Science Center at the LudwigMaximilians Universität, Munich, and Visiting Professor at the MCMP, LMU. Her current research interests are focused on philosophy of statistics and scientific inference in research contexts characterised by strategic behaviour. She is developing a "Formal Epistemology of Medicine", with the aim to analyse the complex interaction of methodological, social and regulatory as well as ethical dimensions in medicine. Her scientific interests include: the precautionary principle, evidence hierarchies, causality, and statistical inference in medicine. Her recent papers analyse issues around philosophy of evidence (reliability, bias, reproducibility, coherence) from a Bayesian perspective. Within her ERC Grant she developed a Bayesian framework for the integration of heterogenous items of evidence and higher order evidence for the purpose of causal assessment of drug-induced harm ("E-Synthesis"), in collaboration with Drug Agencies across Europe.

With the COVID-19 pandemic the relationship between science and warfare seems to have scaled up to a new level. In the current information war, science seems to be used as the weapon itself, instrumentalized by different parties featuring diverse (vested) interests with the aim to advance their agendas. In such circumstances (scientific) information may be manipulated in several ways.
The talk ranks different forms of “persuasion” in ascending order, from paternalism to full-blown authoritarianism, as exemplified by various episodes during the COVID-19 emergency. In particular I will focus on the debate around hydroxichloriquine and the scientific evidence produced so far regarding its possible efficacy/safety profile with respect to SARS-CoV-2. Finally, I will advance some proposals regarding science policy approaches. As Tallacchini (2019) underlines, authoritarianism and nudging are not the only possible routes to be explored. A third way is a new confidence pact between institutions, private sector and citizens, and a new Hippocratic oath between patients and doctors, fostered by the right mechanisms, both for the social planner and for the entrepreneur, in view of the long term wellbeing and welfare of the population. 
Published Mar. 3, 2020 10:25 AM - Last modified Oct. 26, 2020 7:15 PM