Article

26/10/2011

This article examines communicative aspects of climate change, identifying and analysing metaphors used in specialized media reports on climate change, and discussing the aspects of climate change these metaphors emphasize and neglect. Through a critical discourse analysis of the two largest Swedish farm magazines over the 2000–2009 period, this study finds that greenhouse, war, and game metaphors were the most frequently used metaphors in the material. The analysis indicates that greenhouse metaphors are used to ascribe certain natural science characteristics to climate change, game metaphors to address positive impacts of climate change, and war metaphors to highlight negative impacts of climate change. The paper concludes by discussing the contrasting and complementary metaphorical representations farm magazines use to conventionalize climate change.

21/09/2011

Comprehension of the nature and practice of science and its social context are important aspects of communicating and learning science. However there is still very little understanding amongt the non-scientific community of the need for debate in driving scientific knowledge forward and the role of critical scrutiny in quality control. Peer review is an essential part of this process. We initiated and developed a pilot project to provide an opportunity for students to explore the idea that science is a dynamic process rather than a static body of facts. Students from two different schools experienced the process of peer-review by producing and reviewing comics related to the science done at Rothamsted Research. As authors, students showed a large degree of creativity and understanding of the science while as referees they showed good critical skills. Students had at first hand an insight into how science works.

15/09/2011

There exists a distinct disconnect between scientists’ perception of nature and people’s worldview. This ‘disconnect’ though has dialectical relationship with science communication processes which, causes impediments in the propagation of scientific ideas. Those ideas, which are placed at large cultural distance, do not easily become a part of cognitive structure of a common citizen or peoples thought complex. Low level of public understanding of bio-energy technologies is one such sphere of understanding. The present study is based on assumption that public debate on bio-energy is part of the larger human concern about climate change. In this paper we present meta-analyses from published literature and take a look at the surveys that have been carried out at national and international level. In the second section of the article we also present analysis of the survey study carried out in India and locate the shifts in public understanding of science.

25/07/2011

This paper compares opinion-leading newspapers’ frames of stem cell research in the UK and South Korea from 2000 to 2008. The change of news frames, studied by semantic network analysis, in three critical periods (2000-2003/2004-2005/2006-2008) shows the media’s representative strategies in privileging news topics and public sentiments. Both political and national identity represented by each media outlet play a crucial role in framing scientific issues. A news frame that objectifies medical achievements and propagates a popular hope evolves as a common discourse in The Telegraph and The Guardian, with expanded issues that both incorporate and keep in check social concerns. South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo follows the frame of objectified science with a strong economic motivation, while Hankyoreh remains critical of the ‘Hwang scandal’ and tempers its scientific interest with broader political concerns.

11/07/2011

This article presents key results of a ten-year study of media coverage of agricultural biotechnology in the Philippines, the only country in Asia to date to approve a biotech food/feed crop (Bt corn) for commercialization. The top three national English newspapers – Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star were analyzed to determine patterns of media attention measured by coverage peaks, tone, source of news, keywords, and media frames used. Biotechnology news was generally positive but not high in the media agenda. News coverage was marked by occasional peaks brought about by drama and controversial events which triggered attention but not long enough to sustain interest. The study provides a glimpse into the role of mass media in a developing country context. It shows how a complex and contentious topic is integrated into the mainstream of news reporting, and eventually evolves from an emotional discourse to one that allows informed decision making.

10/06/2011

A significant number of mass media news stories on climate change quote scientific publications. However, the journalistic process of popularizing scientific research regarding climate change has been profoundly criticized for being manipulative and inaccurate. This preliminary study used content analysis to examine the accuracy of Danish high quality newspapers in quoting scientific publications from 1997 to 2009. Out of 88 articles, 46 contained inaccuracies though the majority was found to be insignificant and random. The study concludes that Danish broadsheet newspapers are ‘moderately inaccurate’ in quoting science publications but are not deliberately hyping scientific claims. However, the study also shows that 11% contained confusion of source, meaning that statements originating from press material or other news outlets were incorrectly credited to scientific peer-reviewed publications.

23/05/2011

Regenerative medicine (RM) has the potential to strongly impact on society. To determine non-experts’ impressions of RM, we analyzed opinions obtained from workshops in which participants freely discussed RM. Three major features were apparent. First, non-experts were most concerned with the possible effects of RM after it has been fully realized in society. Second, non-experts expressed concerns not only about RM itself, but also about the governance and operation of the technology. Third, non-experts were not only concerned about direct influences of RM, but also about its potential indirect influences. These identified features are likely to be controversial issues when RM is introduced into society. It is important to promote early discussion of these issues by society as a whole.

13/05/2011

In colonial times in New Zealand the portrayal of science to the public had a sense of theatre, with nineteenth and early twentieth century grand exhibitions of a new nation’s resources and its technological achievements complemented by spectacular public lectures and demonstrations by visitors from overseas and scientific ‘showmen’. However, from 1926 to the mid-1990s there were few public displays of scientific research and its applications, corresponding to an inward-looking science regime presided over by the Government science agency, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The subsequent development of science centres with their emphasis on visitor participation has led to an increase in the audience for science and a revival of theatricality in presentation of exhibitions, demonstration lectures, café scientifiques, and science-related activities.

21/03/2011

The way policy makers mobilize scientific knowledge in order to formulate environmental policies is important for understanding the developmental process of environmental policies. Some biodiversity conservation policies, such as those establishing the conservation units and laws on the regulation of land use in protected areas, were selected as objects of analysis. The aim was to see whether political decision makers are supported by scientific knowledge or not. Based on interviews with technical staff from governmental institutions, politicians and scientists, this study analyzed the way the knowledge is mobilized by policy makers concerning measures related to biodiversity conservation in the state of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). We have concluded that environmental policy makers do not normally use the knowledge produced by scientific and academic institutions. Rather than being based on a systematic bibliographic research on environmental issues, the decisions are supported either by personal experience or by expert advice. The measures under analysis were not supported by evidence based on knowledge but motivated by political or economic interests. Paradoxically, policy makers consider themselves sufficiently well informed to make decisions concerning the policy to be implemented.

14/03/2011

This article examines the public at a science exhibition or festival and tries to determine whether casual visitors are a means of expanding the audience. According to a Swiss survey of public attitudes towards science (2005), the non-public of a science exhibition or festival is distinguished by demographics such as gender and education (more female and less educated), cultural practices (less frequent) and attitudes towards science (less positive). Considering the Swiss science festival of 2009, casual visitors differ from intentional ones in terms of sociodemographic aspects and scientific cultural practices; on the other hand, casual visitors are close to intentional ones in terms of non-scientific cultural practices and attitudes towards science. Consequently, casual visitors are one way of increasing audiences.

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