University of São Paulo (Brazil)


The rapid rise of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic has been showing how unprepared societies are to respond to public health emergencies. Making matters worse, the production of ignorance in a global arena promoted by society and political leaders has been an interesting sociological phenomenon of the 2020’s coronavirus crisis. In this process we clearly face the dynamic of an agnotological society—an instable sociotechnical network involving fake news, social media, virtual misinformation activism, biased journalists, far-right protests, and other relevant movements in digital life. Although with very different healthcare systems and science and technology capacity, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Brazil are the top countries in number of the global cases of coronavirus infection, and their societies lead high levels of Covid-19 denialism, impacting strongly the credibility of expert knowledge internationally. This research aims to analyze the sociotechnical governance of agnotology in the coronavirus pandemic in international comparative perspective, understanding how state and civil societies from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States dealt with the reproduction of Covid-19 denialism in the official policymaking and society, broadly. This is the first short-term project to foster broader initiatives about the governance of sociotechnical regimes of agnotology in the digital society.

Principal Investigators

Renan Gonçalves Leonel da Silva

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo

Renan Gonçalves Leonel da Silva is a postdoctoral research fellow in Science & Technology Studies in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a PhD in science and technology policy from the University of Campinas, Brazil. He has been a visiting scholar in several centers of excellence in social science research at Columbia University’s Department of Sociology, Cornell University's Department of Science & Technology Studies, New York University's Stern School of Business, and the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation of the University of Edinburgh's School of Social and Political Science. His work deals with the social inquiry of how ideas, practices, values, and beliefs shape regimes of biomedical knowledge production. Subjects of interest include boundary work in molecular biological research; scientific bandwagon in the twenty-first century; translational research in academic healthcare organizations; ethical, legal, and social implications of the diffusion of immunotherapies in society; precision medicine; social studies of neuroimmunology; and biopharmaceutical development in the global South. Findings from his work have been published in Science, Technology, and Human Values, Science and Public Policy, Reports in Public Health, Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, and other journals

Larry Au

PhD Candidate in Sociology, Columbia University

Larry Au is a PhD candidate in sociology with broad interests in political sociology, economic sociology, and science and technology studies. His dissertation examines the global emergence of the techno-scientific field of precision medicine, focusing on the construction of large speculative infrastructures for biomedical research in China. His other projects examine the translation of "good ideas" from the field of traditional Chinese medicine to solve "hard problems" in biomedicine, controversies in human germline gene-editing, and the role of expertise in making sense of the ongoing pandemic. These projects have been supported by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies Program in China Studies, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Precision Medicine and Society Program. Findings from these projects have been published in Science, Technology, and Human Values, BioSocieties, and other venues.