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Mar 08, 2021 Article
Hocus Pocus: using comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal

by Richard Wiseman, Jordan Collver, Rik Worth and Caroline Watt

This study investigated the potential for comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal. Participants rated their interest in comics, read a skeptical account of alleged paranormal phenomena in one of three mediums (text, comic, and comic containing an interactive magic trick), and then rated their engagement, skepticism and recall. The text was rated as more interesting and entertaining than the comics, and participants' prior interest in comics positively correlated with engagement and shift in skepticism. This suggests that for certain cohorts, comics may be an effective way to promote engagement and attitude change. The implications for future work are considered.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Mar 01, 2021 Article
The newsworthiness of the “March for Science” in Germany: comparing news factors in journalistic media and on Twitter

by Lars Guenther, Georg Ruhrmann, Mercedes C. Zaremba and Natalie Weigelt

Germany was second in the number of March for Science participants. Applying news value theory, this article analyzes the newsworthiness of the 2018 March for Science in Germany, comparing journalistic (online) reporting on the march (N=86) and Twitter communication about #marchforscience (N=591). The results of the content analyses reveal that news factors were more frequent and reached higher intensities in journalistic reporting than on Twitter. Relevance, prominence, personalization, and influence were the news factors most emphasized by journalists. On Twitter, reach was the only news factor correlating with social media engagement (likes, comments, and retweets).

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Feb 15, 2021 Article
Examining the relationship between gene editing knowledge, value predispositions, and general science attitudes among U.S. farmers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public

by Christopher Calabrese, Jieyu Ding Featherstone, Matthew Robbins and George A. Barnett

Science communication scholars have debated over what factors are related to public support for science and technology. This study examines the relationship between factual knowledge of gene editing technologies, value predispositions, and general science attitudes among four major U.S. agricultural stakeholder groups: farmers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public. Understanding these factors will aid in guiding message strategies for engagement with stakeholder groups. Findings indicate that gene editing knowledge was positively associated with science attitudes for all four groups, while conservative ideology was negatively associated with science attitudes among three of the groups. Implications and limitations are discussed.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Feb 09, 2021 Article
The collaboration in the production of ‘Life of Galileo’ in a science museum in Rio de Janeiro

by Carla Almeida and Diego Vaz Bevilaqua

Science and theatre have a long history of interactions, which usually promote collaborations between artists and scientists. Focussing on the theatre performed in the context of science communication, this article aims to analyse the collaboration between artists and scientists in the production of the play ‘Life of Galileo’, by Bertolt Brecht, at the Museu da Vida. Based on the interviews with 12 people involved in the production, we identified a strong involvement in the project, which provided a rich exchange and knowledge acquisition, in addition to raising relevant questions about the theatre performed in the specific context of science communication.

Volume 20 • Issue 02 • 2021

Jan 25, 2021 Article
Effects of opinion statements on laypeople's acceptance of a climate engineering technology. Comparing the source credibility of researchers, politicians and a citizens' jury

by Geraldine Klaus, Lisa Oswald, Andreas Ernst and Christine Merk

To examine the influence of different actors' fictitious statements about research and deployment of stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), we conducted an online survey in Germany. Participants assess researchers and a citizens' jury to be more credible than politicians. Credibility has a strong positive effect on SAI acceptance in both pro-SAI and contra-SAI conditions. Reading the statement against SAI-deployment led to significantly lower acceptance scores compared to reading the pro-statement. However, the difference between messages was unexpectedly small, indicating that the message content was not fully adopted while underlying traits and attitudes mainly shaped acceptance even despite, or because of, low levels of knowledge.

Volume 20 • Issue 01 • 2021

Jan 18, 2021 Article
Neurons in sparkling space: scientific objectivity and ‘blurry’ images in neuroscience

by David Gruber

This article employs quantitative and qualitative approaches to examine images of neurobiology published in a science news database, sampled across a two-year interval. Upon comparing the images to article headlines, the author argues that identifiable digital effects — such as blobs of bright colour, sparks of light, superimposed lines — correlate with articles reporting on new observations of neuronal action. A qualitative semiotic analysis of characteristic examples forwards the idea of a “blurry image”, denoting how audiences must cognitively blur the line between objectivity and subjectivity, between the “real” and the enhanced performative action evident in digital images tingling with vibrant life. The conclusion suggests that digital image making can increase aesthetic pleasability even as it serves as a partner in the cognitive task and, accordingly, the argumentation of the neuroscientist. Future research can investigate whether or not digital overlays and image features identified as obvious and attractive impact assessments of scientific research or alter evaluations of objectivity.

Volume 20 • Issue 01 • 2021

Jan 11, 2021 Article
Differences in knowledge, uncertainty, and social context in four medical TV series from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States

by Yin-Yueh Lo and Chun-Ju Huang

Television series that mix real science and imagery science make up a fascinating genre in popular science. While previous research on entertainment media focuses on Western examples and seldom includes Asian TV series, this study explores how medicine is portrayed in four TV series located in a hospital setting which were broadcasted in Taiwan. Yet, they were produced in different cultures: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States. We found that the emphasis is more on the social contexts of medicine than on factual medical information. Yet, fictional TV series may be crucial for contextualizing science and science-based medicine.

Volume 20 • Issue 01 • 2021

Dec 14, 2020 Article
COVID-19 in Brazil: an analysis about the consumption of information on social networks

by Luisa Massarani, Igor Waltz and Tatiane Leal

In this article, we analysed the 100 most engaging contents about COVID-19 on social networks in Brazil, in March 2020, when the disease officially arrived in the country. Within the infodemic context, we analysed the accuracy of the information and the reliability of the websites that guided the debate. Our results show that misinformation/disinformation accounted for 13.5% of the sample and that their average engagement was greater than the one for the information that could be verified in other sources and in accordance with scientific evidence. We also found that professional websites, especially journalistic ones, predominate among sources. The results point to the need to combine science communication strategies with network communication dynamics.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 Article
YouTube as a source of information on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Thales Brandi Ramos, Luciana Castilho Bokehi, Raphael Castilho Bokehi, Taynah da Silava Pinheiro, Erika Barreto de Oliveira, Renan da SilvaGianoti Torres, Jose Raphael Bokehi, Sabrina Calil-Elias and Selma Rodrigues de Castilho

This research aimed to analyze the quality of the information conveyed through YouTube videos in Portuguese on the use of two medicines suggested for the treatment of COVID-19: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The ‘Brief DISCERN’ questionnaire was applied to assess the quality of the video content as well as baseline characteristics, such as length, views, likes and dislikes, in a total of 90 videos with almost 4,5 million views. Traditional media accounted for 58,89% of videos. Misleading information was present in most of the videos (63,5%). Despite the ease of access, the videos showed problems in the quality of information.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 Article
COVID-19 and (hydroxy)chloroquine: a dispute over scientific truth during Bolsonaro's weekly Facebook live streams

by Ana Carolina Pontalti Monari, Allan Santos and Igor Sacramento

As successive studies have shown that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are ineffective in treating COVID-19, this article investigates how the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, disputes the truth around science to convince the population that these drugs can save lives, preserve jobs and restore economic growth. Using Charaudeau's theory [Charaudeau, 2007, 2010} as a methodological framework, as well as understanding that right-wing populism has embodied post-truth communication as a distinctive feature of contemporary politics, we observed Bolsonaro's weekly Facebook live streams — known as ‘lives’ — for 14 weeks, identifying them as a communicative device that offers Bolsonaro the material conditions to interact directly with his public. Finally, we structured our analysis according to the three most common themes — questioning delays due to an insistence on scientific methodology, overvaluation of personal experiences and emphasis on individuals' freedom of choice — to observe the emotional images and discursive scenarios the Brazilian president stages to produce the intended pathemic effects of his discourse: hope and urgency; trust and distrust; freedom and polarization.

Volume 19 • Issue 07 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part II, 2020