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Feb 21, 2024 Book Review
Bridging the gap between science deniers and voice of reason

by Karolína Poliaková

In the 2021 book “How to Talk to a Science Denier: Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason”, Lee McIntyre introduces different anti-science movements and their reasoning. Based on personal interactions with committed science deniers and literature from various disciplines including cognitive psychology, he argues that all these communities use the same playbook in terms of reasoning about evidence, argumentation, demands on scientific certainty and recruitment of new members. Such observations allow McIntyre to propose a universal strategy to combat these beliefs by using respectful in-person engagement and effective science communication tools. His argument is rooted in the idea that anti-science beliefs are built on identities, not on the content of specific beliefs.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Feb 19, 2024 Practice Insight
University-led dialogues with society: balancing informing and listening?

by Nina de Roo, Tamara Metze and Cees Leeuwis

In response to a growing understanding that scientific knowledge is not always trusted at face value, many universities organise dialogues to `open up' to society. In four exploratory case studies at the Dutch Wageningen University & Research, we looked into the adherence to dialogue principles and the roles that researchers performed while engaging in dialogues. We found that researchers face three challenges when interacting with societal stakeholders in dialogues: (1) moving from knowledge provider to “letting in” and listening to different perspectives (2) balancing attention toward knowledge with attention toward values and emotions (3) navigating different aspired and perceived roles of researchers in dialogue (e.g. Pure Scientist versus Issue Advocate).

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Feb 08, 2024 Article
"That's some positive energy": how social media users respond to #funny science content

by Michael A. Cacciatore, Sara K. Yeo, Leona Yi-Fan Su, Meaghan McKasy, Liane O'Neill and Sijia Qian

Many scientists make use of social media and take various approaches to humor in their posts to encourage online public engagement, yet little is known about how publics respond to particular types of online science humor. This study investigates the behavioral effects of the presence of different types of science humor, specifically anthropomorphism, wordplay, and the two combined, shared by a scientist on Twitter. Individuals who experienced higher levels of mirth after exposure to humorous science content were more likely to leave a comment on the social media post. Additionally, individuals' need for cognition moderated the relationship between humor exposure and mirth, as well as the relationship between mirth and leaving a comment. These results and future research are discussed.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Jan 22, 2024 Practice Insight
Engaging young people in science communication about mental health during COVID-19

by Signe Herbers Poulsen, Nina Maindal, Kristian Dahlmann Oddershede, Mathias Sejerkilde, Stine Breiner Pedersen, Manizha Haghju, Emma MacLean Sinclair, Anne Harrits, Ulrik Bak Kirk, Jacob F. Sherson and Gitte Kragh

Many young people struggle with their mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic compounded these challenges. However, young people are rarely involved in research and communication about causes and coping strategies. We used an online game as a conversation starter and co-created a list of coping strategies with young people to apply the dialogue model of science communication and facilitate social conversation about mental health during COVID-19. The young people found the involvement was valuable as it led to self-reflection, social reflection with peers and an experience of recognition and contribution. We discuss challenges and urge researchers to explore ways for open dialogue and co-creation as strategic and contributing parts of the research process.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Dec 06, 2023 Article
Which scientist are you? Creating self-outgroup overlap with a scientist through a personality matching game

by Alexandra L. Beauchamp, Su-Jen Roberts and Craig Piper

Based in intergroup contact theory, we investigated how messaging about shared characteristics affects perceived closeness with scientists (i.e., self-outgroup overlap). In an online study, participants ($N=486$) played a personality matching game that matched them with a real scientist, then they responded to a survey. We replicated the study at a zoo ($N=63$) to examine implementation as a facilitated game. Self-scientist overlap improved in the online setting; in the in situ setting, trust increased, but not self-scientist overlap. Findings suggest that learning about how one scientist is similar to one's self can increase perceived closeness to scientists overall.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 22, 2023 Practice Insight
The value of public science events: insights from three years of communicating climate change research

by Ruth A. O'Connor, Tara Roberson, Clare de Castella and Zoe Leviston

Public science events are valued primarily as sites of individual learning. We explored the individual and collective value of university-based science events discussing climate change and motivations to attend. While events were most commonly valued as opportunities for learning, their social context created collective value associated with the physical gathering of like-minded people. Participants despairing at inaction on climate change were given agency through learning, participation, interpersonal discussions and normalising new behaviours. Post-event interpersonal discussions increase the reach of events beyond “the choir”. These discussions increase the diversity of messengers, creating opportunities for new framings and understandings of climate change.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 20, 2023 Article
Found a fossil: improving awareness, engagement, and communication strategies for heritage discoveries

by Sally Hurst, Matthew Kosnik, Linda Evans and Glenn A. Brock

Fossils and Indigenous artefacts are often found by members of the general public. To gauge Australian awareness of heritage laws and willingness to report finds, the Found a Fossil project conducted a survey to understand barriers to reporting heritage material. Results showed enthusiasm to report but confusion over appropriate authorities to contact, lack of transparency by government, and poorly communicated legislation created barriers to heritage reporting. This project represents the first attempt to quantify reporting behaviours of Indigenous artefacts and fossils in Australia and recommends improvements for reporting, protection and communication of Australian heritage items and their historical narratives.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 16, 2023 Book Review
Visualising science: a thorough guide for designing and using science graphics

by Marnell Kirsten

`Building Science Graphics' guides scientists and science communicators on how their communication of science knowledge can benefit from the visual aid of science graphics. This can be an intimidating task to someone unfamiliar with visual design, but the book demystifies this entire process, giving a simple and straightforward account of a complex topic.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 18, 2023 Practice Insight
How to save the world with zombies? — A scientainment approach to engage young people

by Petra Bättig-Frey, Mirjam West, Rahel Skelton and Verena Berger

When trying to sensitize adolescents for sustainability, innovative communication approaches are needed. In the outdoor escape “Zombie mission”, players follow a story and try to save the world by solving puzzles about sustainability topics with scientific information found in the university gardens. This study investigates to whom this scientainment approach appeals and whether it can impart knowledge and raise interest in science and the environment. A mixed methods approach was adopted using questionnaires and interviews. The results suggest that the game is a promising tool for communicating sustainability to adolescents, even those who may not have had prior interest in the environment or science. Participants enjoyed the activity and gained new knowledge as a result.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Jul 24, 2023 Practice Insight
Opening museums' science communication to dialogue and participation: the “Experimental Field for Participation and Open Science” at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

by Wiebke Rössig, Bonnie Dietermann, Yori Schultka, Suriya Poieam and Uwe Moldrzyk

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum — MfN) established participation and exchange as central elements of the entire institution alongside its research. In order to experiment with formats and settings for dialogue-oriented exchange and participation, an area within the exhibition round walk was designated for this purpose in 2018. Over the course of three years, the “Experimental Field for Participation and Open Science” has developed the practice of opening the museum's research and collection in a dialogue-oriented, participatory way. Focus lies on museum visitors and on reaching new groups who are not in close contact with science yet. The practice of opening and participation was tested, reflectively accompanied, and further developed during the whole time period. This article describes the idea, concept, design, and the results of the external evaluation of the formats of dialogue-oriented and participatory outreach in the Experimental Field at the MfN. It gives an overview of underlying ideas, design of the space, and how the goal of creating mutually beneficial encounters and enabling participation and co-creation was addressed.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023