Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019


Jun 30, 2019 Article
Touching the stars: improving NASA 3D printed data sets with blind and visually impaired audiences

by Kimberly Arcand, April Jubett, Megan Watzke, Sara Price, Kelly Williamson and Peter Edmonds

Astronomy has been an inherently visual area of science for millenia, yet a majority of its significant discoveries take place in wavelengths beyond human vision. There are many people, including those with low or no vision, who cannot participate fully in such discoveries if visual media is the primary communication mechanism. Numerous efforts have worked to address equity of accessibility to such knowledge sharing, such as through the creation of three-dimensional (3D) printed data sets. This paper describes progress made through technological and programmatic developments in tactile 3D models using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to improve access to data.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jul 07, 2019 Article
Climate change skeptics teach climate literacy? A critical discourse analysis of children's books

by Nicole Colston and Julie Thomas

This critical discourse analysis examined climate change denial books intended for children and parents as examples of pseudo-educational materials reproduced within the conservative echo chamber in the United States. Guided by previous excavations in climate change denial discourses, we identified different types of skepticism, policy frames, contested scientific knowledge, and uncertainty appeals. Findings identify the ways these children's books introduced a logic of non-problematicity about environmental problems bolstered by contradictory forms of climate change skepticism and polarizing social-conflict frames. These results pose pedagogical dilemmas for educators, environmental advocates, and communication experts interested in advancing understanding and action in the face of rapid climate change.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jul 14, 2019 Article
Observing and drawing the Sun: research-based insights to assess science communication practices aimed at children

by Sara Anjos, Alexandre Aibeo and Anabela Carvalho

Knowing how specific publics understand and experience science is crucial for both researchers and practitioners. As learning and meaning-making develop over time, depending on a combination of factors, creative possibilities to analyze those processes are needed to improve evaluation of science communication practices. We examine how first grade children's drawings expressed their perceptions of the Sun and explore their views of a major astronomical body within their social, cultural and personal worlds. We then examine how the observation of the Sun through a telescope led to changes in graphical representations, and how learning and meaning evolved after several months.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jul 21, 2019 Article
Developing science tabletop games: ‘Catan’® and global warming

by Sam Illingworth and Paul Wake

‘Catan’® (1995) is a multiplayer tabletop game with global sales of over 20 million copies. Presented here is an exploration of the steps that were taken in the development of the ‘Catan: Global Warming’ expansion, from prototype to final design. During the playtesting of the game the feedback that we received from a variety of playtesters indicated that the game mechanics (rather than any accompanying story) were an effective and elegant way of developing dialogue around a specific topic, in this instance global warming. We conclude that in order to develop such a game, consideration must be given to: the accessibility of the game, the game literacy of the proposed players, the playtesting of the game mechanics, the peer review of the scientific content, and the extent to which the metagame (i.e. those discussions that take place around and away from the game) is enabled.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jul 28, 2019 Article
Avoiding post-truth environmental conflict in New Zealand: communicating uncertainties in endangered species science

by Anna Palliser and Giles Dodson

Keyes [2004, p. 15] says: “In the post-truth era we don't just have truth or lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall short of a lie”. In this paper about Hector's and Maui dolphin management in New Zealand, we argue that some scientific knowledge about these species presented and disseminated in ways that equate to this third category and as such may be classed as ‘post-truth type communication’. This generates citizen mistrust in science, scientists and government agencies and inflames conflict among informed stakeholders. We argue trust may be rebuilt by a combination of deliberative approaches to environmental governance, transparency about uncertainties, information gaps and divergent scientific opinions, and reformulation of normal scientific approaches and assumptions to those advocated by post-normal science.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Aug 18, 2019 Article
Young, sceptical, and environmentally (dis)engaged: do news habits make a difference?

by Yuliya Lakew and Ulrika Olausson

Research shows that news consumption plays a positive role in youths' environmental engagement. This article examines if this also holds true for sceptics by comparing Swedish climate change sceptics with non-sceptical youngsters in their early and late adolescence. We conceptualise news consumption as foci of public connection and orientation rather than a source of environmental information. The results show that in their early teens, heavy news consumers among both sceptics and non-sceptics are indeed more engaged with environmental issues than their less news-oriented peers. However, in late adolescence, sceptics among news consumers show very little environmental engagement.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Aug 25, 2019 Article
Using humor to engage the public on climate change: the effect of exposure to one-sided vs. two-sided satire on message discounting, elaboration and counterarguing

by Amy Becker and Ashley A. Anderson

The research explores the differential impact of exposure to one-sided vs. two-sided satire about climate change on message processing. Analyzing experimental data (N =141) we find that one-sided satire offered by ‘The Onion’ ironically claiming that global warming is a hoax encourages viewers to engage in greater message elaboration and counterarguing. In contrast, two-sided satire offered by ‘The Weather Channel’ that makes jokes about those who believe in vs. reject human involvement in climate change is quickly discounted. We conclude by discussing the strategic value of incorporating one-sided satirical humor in communication efforts focused on climate change engagement.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Sep 01, 2019 Article
How does science fiction television shape fans' relationships to science? Results from a survey of 575 ‘Doctor Who’ viewers

by Lindy A. Orthia

Fiction is often credited with shaping public attitudes to science, but little science communication research has studied fans' deep engagement with a science-themed fiction text. This study used a survey to investigate the impacts of television series ‘Doctor Who’ (1963–89; 2005–present) on its viewers' attitudes to science, including their education and career choices and ideas about science ethics and the science-society relationship. The program's reported impacts ranged from causing participants to fact-check ‘Doctor Who’'s science to inspiring them to pursue a science career, or, more commonly, prompting viewers to think broadly and deeply about science's social position in diverse ways.

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Sep 22, 2019 Article
EPCOT theme park as a science communication space: the Test Track case

by Daniela Martin

Science and technology have become tools to legitimize messages that affect the world in terms of society, politics and economy. This paper presents part of the results of a study that analyzed the symbolic construction of the future in the scientific-technological discourse at EPCOT theme park in Orlando, Florida. The sociohistorical conditions and narrative strategies are analyzed based on the theoretical and methodological approach by John B. Thompson. The results highlighted that the construction of the notion of progress is strongly influenced by the commercial and political interests of the sponsors. In particular, the ‘Test Track’ ride totally lacks any discussion about the impact of cars on society and the environment. The future is presented as a utopian one without any possible disruption, a perception that permeated the development of the United States over the 20th century and is promoted even in the 21st century despite the evidence provided by multiple wars and crises.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Practice Insights

Sep 08, 2019 Practice Insight
Science live — articulating the aims and ethos of science event practitioners in the U.S.A. and U.K.

by Laura Fogg-Rogers, Ben Wiehe, Dane Comerford, Julie Fooshee and John Durant

Live science events engage publics with science in a social context. This article articulates the aims and ethos of this growing sector within a research context. Semi-structured interviews (N=13) and focus groups (N=77) were conducted with event practitioners (both professional and volunteers) in the U.S.A. and U.K.. Inductive thematic analysis indicated that event producers aim to raise awareness of and professionalism in the sector. In particular, they seek to develop research into long-term impacts of events for both audiences and practitioners.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019



Sep 15, 2019 Letter
Communicating science: lessons from a Twitterstorm

by Hannah Little

In early August 2019, the U.S.A. saw 2 significant mass shootings in just 48 hours. On Twitter, Neil deGrasse Tyson responded with a tweet to his millions of followers. He outlined the number of deaths in 48 hours from other causes, and seemed to disparage the human tendency to respond emotionally “more to spectacle than to data”. The tweet resulted in an uproar. This “twitterstorm” might provide important lessons for practicing science communicators. The first lesson outlined in this letter is about the use of analogy in science communication, and the second is about how emotion is addressed in science communication.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Conference Reviews

Aug 04, 2019 Conference Review
WCSJ2019: scaling new heights in Switzerland

by Marina Joubert

At a time when science is perceived to be under attack and our planet is facing severe challenges, the role of science journalism in taking on these challenges was a key theme of the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists. But, while policymakers and science leaders are urging journalists to help restore public trust in science, science journalists are concerned about the future viability of their profession in the face of faltering business models in mainstream media.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

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