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Jun 13, 2019 Essay
The conflation of motives of science communication — causes, consequences, remedies

by Peter Weingart and Marina Joubert

We explore and discuss the diverse motives that drive science communication, pointing out that political motives are the major driving force behind most science communication programmes including so-called public engagement with science with the result that educational and promotional objectives are blurred and science communication activities are rarely evaluated meaningfully. Since this conflation of motives of science communication and the gap between political rhetoric and science communication practice could threaten the credibility of science, we argue for the restoration of a crucial distinction between two types of science communication: educational/dialogic vs promotional/persuasive.

Volume 18 • Issue 03 • 2019 • Special Issue: Communication at the Intersection of Science and Politics, 2019

Sep 20, 2016 Commentary
Science communication and the issue of trust

by Peter Weingart and Lars Guenther

Science communication, whether internally or to the general public depends on trust, both trust in the source and trust in the medium of communication. With the new 'ecology of communication' this trust is endangered. On the one hand the very term of science communication has been captured by many different actors (e.g., governments, PR experts, universities and research institutions, science journalists, and bloggers) apart from scientists themselves to whom science communication means different things and whose communication is tainted by special interests. Some of these actors are probably more trusted by the general public than others. On the other hand, the channels that are used to communicate science are also not trusted equally. Particularly the widespread use of social media raises doubts about the credibility of the communication spread through them.

Volume 15 • Issue 05 • 2016