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Sep 12, 2018 Book Review
Book review: The science communication challenge. Truth and disagreement in democratic knowledge societies

by Birte Faehnrich

The Science Communication Challenge by Gitte Meyer, a Danish science communication scholar with a previous career in science journalism, is a collection of essays on the interrelationships among science, society and politics in modern knowledge societies. The book is valuable as it contributes to the important debate on the “whys” (instead of the “hows”) of science communication and its (long term) impact on science and society. However, it does not present explicit solutions to the questions in focus but rather reads as a large patchwork of ideas, theories and concepts which require readers to have at least some basic knowledge.

Volume 17 • Issue 03 • 2018

Sep 03, 2018 Commentary
More democratic research and innovation

by Robert Braun and Erich Griessler

For decades the idea that scientists, policy makers and industry know best in research and innovation has been convincingly challenged. The concept of Responsible Research and Innovation [RRI] combines various strands of critique and takes up the idea that research and innovation need to be democratized and must engage with the public in order to serve the public. The proposed future EU research funding framework programme, Horizon Europe, excludes a specific program line on research in RRI. We propose a number of steps the European Parliament should take to institutionalize RRI in Horizon Europe and beyond.

Volume 17 • Issue 03 • 2018

Mar 20, 2018 Book Review
Not a scientist: how politicians mistake, misrepresent, and utterly mangle science

by Zachary Kizer

Science permeates nearly every facet of human life and civilization. However, in an age of media oversaturation, it has been increasingly easier for pseudoscientific information to be disseminated among the masses, especially by those with a political agenda. In his book, ‘Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science’, author Dave Levitan creates a guidebook for spotting and debunking unscientific ideas in the political sphere, a vital tool in the Information Age.

Volume 17 • Issue 01 • 2018

Feb 20, 2018 Book Review
A fascinating book about ethnography made public and the ethnography of publicization

by Karen Mogendorff

If Truth Be Told is a collection of essays on the politics of public ethnography and focuses on seasoned anthropologists' reflexive and critical engagement with public responses to their monographs. Fassin's primary purpose is to provide an ethnography of publicization. The book illuminates how public responses reflect and are affected by hegemonic sociopolitical realities and sociocultural practices and impact on the life and work of anthropologists. Of special interest is to what effect contributors take up different roles such as the role of expert to advocate for a more nuanced, non-hegemonic and contextualized understanding of marginalized people or specific groups.

Volume 17 • Issue 01 • 2018

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
Science communication: process, power and politics

by Peter Broks

The “post-truth” age of “alternative facts” suggests both the urgent need for effective science communication and also its failure over the past thirty years. Two sessions at the Science in Public conference explored what could be done. Responsible Research and Innovation is presented as one possible way forward with the NUCLEUS project offered as an example. The result would be to transform “science communication” so that public engagement shares not only knowledge but the power that goes with it.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
SiP 2017 panel: speculations and concerns on robots' status in society

by Erik Stengler and Jimena Escudero Pérez

Studying fictional depictions of robots and artificial intelligence in cinematographic science fiction narratives acquires a new level of relevance as legislators' approaches to the subject seem to be strongly influenced by popular culture. This panel of Science in Public 2017 presented various on-going investigations of this kind, showing that the critical mass in this area of research is growing

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Sep 20, 2017 Commentary
Robots, AI, and the question of ‘e-persons’ ― a panel at the 2017 Science in Public conference, 10–12 July 2017

by Michael Szollosy

In response to EU draft legislation on robots and artificial intelligence ― which included the headline-grabbing proposals to introduce rights for ‘e-persons’ and necessitating that robots come equipped with a ‘kill switch’ ― a diverse group of experts and academics gathered in Sheffield as part of the Science in Public 2017 conference. Panellists and the audience discussed the origins and implications of the ideas behind the EU initiative, and more specifically, whether robots or artificial intelligence qualifies for right as ‘persons’, and how the EU proposal imagines robots and artificial intelligence in particular, historically-contingent ways that influence or distort our present discussions and attempts to legislate on the future use and development of technology.

Volume 16 • Issue 04 • 2017

Jul 20, 2017 Article
Vaccination communication strategies: What have we learned, and lost, in 200 years?

by Merryn McKinnon and Lindy A. Orthia

This study compares Australian government vaccination campaigns from two very different time periods, the early nineteenth century (1803–24) and the early twenty-first (2016). It explores the modes of rhetoric and frames that government officials used in each period to encourage parents to vaccinate their children. The analysis shows that modern campaigns rely primarily on scientific fact, whereas 200 years ago personal stories and emotional appeals were more common. We argue that a return to the old ways may be needed to address vaccine hesitancy around the world.

Volume 16 • Issue 03 • 2017 • Special Issue: History of Science Communication, 2017

Mar 28, 2017 Commentary
Science communication: frequently public, occasionally intellectual

by Rod Lamberts

This article provides a starting position and scene-setter for an invited commentary series on science communication and public intellectualism. It begins by briefly considering what intellectualism and public intellectualism are, before discussing their relationship with science communication, especially in academia. It ends with a call to science communication academics and practitioners to either become more active in challenging the status quo, or to help support those who wish to by engendering a professional environment that encourages risk-taking and speaking-out in public about critical social issues.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017

Mar 28, 2017 Commentary
Why speak?

by Emma Johnston

In an information free-for-all why should scientists bother to add their voice? In this commentary piece I argue there is an increasingly important role for scientists amongst the growing ranks of public intellectuals and the many who style themselves as such. First, we must become the sifters and sorters. We need to be willing to use our research and analytical skills to identify what is valuable amongst all the noise, and, if necessary, to volubly reject what is not. And, second, we need to create and defend the space everyone needs for deep thought and consideration. We need to influence ongoing debates by seeking to push them towards evidence-based arguments and areas of scientific consensus. To sift out the deliberately distracting stories and to counter fake news.

Volume 16 • Issue 01 • 2017