Managing counter-knowledge in the context of a pandemic: challenges for scientific institutions and policymakers

Ettore Bolisani, Juan Gabriel Cegarra Navarro, Alexeis Garcia-Perez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Counter-knowledge comes from unverified sources of information such as hoaxes, rumours or partial lies. It creates an atmosphere of lack of trust that often leads individuals into making risky decisions. In contexts of high uncertainty, the flow of counter-knowledge is likely to increase. Although scientists and scientific institutions can provide knowledge based on evidence and verifiable facts, they may find it difficult to react to the proliferation of counter-knowledge which affects their own credibility. This paper adopts concepts derived from the knowledge management field to shed light on this problem. Examples from the recent history of Italy are discussed. Useful lessons for the public and policymakers are derived. These lessons become particularly relevant in the context of a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world experiences a combination of factors that provide a fertile ground for the emergence of both scientific knowledge and social counter-knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-524
Number of pages8
JournalKnowledge Management Research and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • Counter-knowledge
  • Healthcare sector
  • Public science
  • Knowledge management
  • Case-stories
  • Italy
  • Crisis
  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • crisis
  • case-stories
  • knowledge management
  • pandemic
  • COVID-19
  • public science
  • healthcare sector


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