The Mercury Project brings seven experts into productive discussion on the role of behavioral science in overcoming health misinformation.

Washington, DC | May 24, 2023 — From 10:30 – 11:15 US Eastern time tomorrow, May 25, 2023, seven experts will convene in the Kavli Auditorium at the National Academy of Sciences to consider how to move on from only describing and decrying the problem of health misinformation to finding, developing, and testing solutions to support science-based health decision-making that can be applied across multiple contexts. Register to watch the event here

The discussion, organized by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), is part of a summit organized by the Nobel Prize Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, the premier scientific body in the United States, to strengthen public trust in science. Panelists including Robert Califf, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, will address the current crisis of public trust in science and how behavioral science research can address that crisis. Ahead of the event, panelist and Nobel Laureate Paul Romer stressed how critical the topic is: “Humanity’s greatest creation is a community of science that routinely generates amazing practical benefits. It succeeds because its members can trust the insights that they share. Trust is required not just for science, but for every collective endeavor. By eroding trust, the disinformation facilitated by the digital revolution threatens them all.”

The breadth of the panel illustrates the cross-cutting importance of trust in science right now. High-level representatives from the research, philanthropic, and policy communities will come together for this conversation, including Alonzo Plough, Vice President and Chief Science Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Eileen O’Connor, Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation; and Sylvie Briand, Director of Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Prevention in the Emergency Programme of the World Health Organization. 

The SSRC is addressing trust in health systems through its Mercury Project, which currently supports 95 social and behavioral scientists and practitioners working  to find cost-effective and scalable interventions that support science-based health decision-making in 17 countries and across multiple online and offline platforms.

The Mercury Project illustrates the tractability of the problem of trust in science to the tools of social and behavioral science. Panelist and  Mercury Project researcher Rachel Glennerster notes that “hostility to science is much less embedded than people think,” and that “convenience and nudges thus can be very powerful.”

SSRC President and researcher Anna Harvey points out the opportunities available for social and behavioral science to address the problem of trust in science: “Because investments in social and behavioral science R&D have not been commensurate with investments in biomedical R&D, such as vaccine development, finding ways to ensure that biomedical innovations are used and used properly may be particularly high-leverage opportunities.“


About the Social Science Research Council

The Social Science Research Council, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 1923 by seven professional associations in the social and behavioral sciences, mobilizes policy-relevant social and behavioral science for the public good. Learn more about our history at