The question was raised in the 4th November copy of The New York Times when it entitled the editorial of Garry Wills (political and cultural historian), regarding the re-election of George W. Bush, "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out". Wills' theory, with which the directors of the newspaper palpably concur, is that Bush was re-elected because "many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution".
The objective of the present paper is an attempt to measure the public understanding of science in the area of health and hygiene and test the efficacy of "cultural distance model". A pre-tested open-ended questionnaire was used for administering cross-sectional surveys at a religio-cultural festival in India. 3484 individuals were interviewed and responses were coded and entered to construct computer database. The data was used for determining the cultural distance of five scientific concepts from the quotidian life of the target population. In developing countries, the formal system of modern education operates as a strong determinant in shaping cultural structures of thoughts prevalent among the citizens. There exists a cultural distance between the scientific structure of configuring natural occurrences and peoples' complexity of thoughts. The distance varies significantly across the concepts that were subjected to the inspection and is a function of the nature of scientific information.
Internal scientific communication and public communication of science and technology are growing in Brazil at a good pace, along with scientific productivity. In this Focus we will try to analyze the debate on standard or alternative models of communication of science that can be seen in the practice of science journalism and popular science in Brazil.
The scientific institution in Brazil is marching to a good rhythm. Despite problems in funding (and in the very irregular distribution of such funds), universities and private research centers changed and grew over the last few years. In 1999, Brazil (whose external debt is over 50% of GDP), invested 0.87% of GDP in Research & Development: a percentage comparable to that of several Mediterranean countries.
If there is a peculiarity in the way of doing science and in the way of communicating science in Brazil, it is in the use of the idea of "deficit" in political and economic discourses, as well as in the discourses of socio-technical networks. Our proposal here is not to affirm or reject the existence of this deficit, but rather to understand its workings and its construction as a way of bringing about networks of interest that make use of this idea. For us, this is not an idea which is restricted to the discourse of researchers or of journalists and scientific broadcasters; there is also an echo in the general society, and in different spheres and situations. The idea of deficit with regard to scientific knowledge is functional in Brazil, in conjunction with the idea that the country itself has a deficiency in relation to developed countries. It is as if there were two levels of deficit which join together and empower each other.
The international symposium Science on air: the role of radio in science communication was held in Trieste on 1 and 2 October, 2004. To our knowledge, it is the first conference ever specifically held on science in radio, and it is certainly the first time science radio journalists, researchers, and media experts from 16 different countries met to discuss their journalistic practice and the role of radio in science communication. The main results are presented in this section.
The management of health risks related to scientific and technological innovations has been the focus of a heated debate for a few years now. In some cases, like the campaigns against the use of GMOs in agriculture, this debate has degenerated into a political and social dispute. Even risk analysis studies, which appeared in the 1970s in the fields of nuclear physics and engineering and were later developed by social sciences as well, have given completely different, and at times contradictory, interpretations that, in turn, have given rise to bitter controversies.