Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020


Mar 15, 2020 Article
Decisions to choose genetically modified foods: how do people's perceptions of science and scientists affect their choices?

by Jiyoun Kim and Sumin Fang

This study explores the effects of food science perception on food decisions in the controversial case of genetically modified (GM) foods. We examine (1) how scientific consensus and scientific deference affect the public perception of GM foods; and (2) how perception and healthy eating interest influence people's actual food consumption decisions. We categorized our samples into four groups based on different risk/benefit perceptions of GM food: tradeoff, relaxed, skeptical, and uninterested in the process of further data analysis.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Mar 29, 2020 Article
Strategies for including communication of non-Western and indigenous knowledges in science communication histories

by Lindy A. Orthia

How a discipline's history is written shapes its identity. Accordingly, science communicators opposed to cultural exclusion may seek cross-cultural conceptualizations of science communication's past, beyond familiar narratives centred on the recent West. Here I make a case for thinking about science communication history in these broader geotemporal terms. I discuss works by historians and knowledge keepers from the Indigenous Australian Yorta Yorta Nation who describe a geological event their ancestors witnessed 30,000 ybp and communicated about over generations to the present. This is likely one of the oldest examples of science communication, warranting a prominent place in science communication histories.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Apr 05, 2020 Article
Variability in the interpretation of probability phrases used in Dutch news articles — a risk for miscommunication

by Sanne Willems, Casper Albers and Ionica Smeets

Verbal probability phrases are often used in science communication to express estimated risks in words instead of numbers. In this study we look at how laypeople and statisticians interpret Dutch probability phrases that are regularly used in news articles. We found that there is a large variability in interpretations, even if the phrases are given in a neutral context. Also, statisticians do not agree on the interpretation of the phrases. We conclude that science communicators should be careful in using verbal probability expressions.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Apr 13, 2020 Article
Chanting to the choir: the dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs

by Jenni Metcalfe

Blogs provide potential for publics to engage more deliberatively through dialogue in controversial science than one-way dissemination methods. This study investigated who was commenting on two antithetical climate change blogsites; how they were commenting; and the quality of their dialogue. Most research into science blogs has focused on bloggers rather than commenters. This study found that both blogsites were dominated by a small number of commenters who used contractive dialogue to promote their own views to like-minded commenters. Such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics rather than deliberately engaging them in climate change science.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Practice Insights

Apr 26, 2020 Practice Insight
Communicating cosmology with multisensory metaphorical experiences

by Roberto Trotta, Daniel Hajas, José Eliel Camargo-Molina, Robert Cobden, Emanuela Maggioni and Marianna Obrist

We present a novel approach to communicating abstract concepts in cosmology and astrophysics in a more accessible and inclusive manner. We describe an exhibit aiming at creating an immersive, multisensory metaphorical experience of an otherwise imperceptible physical phenomenon — dark matter. Human-Computer Interaction experts and physicists co-created a multisensory journey through dark matter by exploiting the latest advances in haptic and olfactory technology. We present the concept design of a pilot and a second, improved event, both held at the London Science Museum, including the practical setup of the multisensory dark matter experience, the delivery of sensory stimulation and preliminary insights from users' feedback.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020


Apr 19, 2020 Essay
On social change, agency, and public interest: what can science communication learn from public relations?

by Tara Roberson

This essay explores the relationship of science communication and public relations and contends that science communication has something to learn from public relations research. I provide an alternate history of public relations, drawn from the history of social movements (activism). I outline two areas from public relations theory: first, notions of human agency and equity in communication and, second, public interest in public communication. In doing so, I highlight how research from critical public relations could contribute to science communication efforts to enable participation with science and technology from wider, more diverse publics.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020


May 03, 2020 Letter
Pseudoscience as media effect

by Alexandre Schiele

The popularity of the anti-vax movement in the United States and elsewhere is the cause of new lethal epidemics of diseases that are fully preventable by modern medicine [Benecke and DeYoung, 2019]. Creationism creeps into science classrooms with the aim of undermining the teaching of evolution through legal obligations or school boards’ decisions to present both sides of a debate largely foreign to the scientific community [Taylor, 2017]. And one simply has to turn on the TV and watch so-called science channels to be bombarded with aliens, ghosts, cryptids and miracles as though they are undisputable facts [Prothero, 2012]. Deprecated by its detractors, scientific proof is assimilated to become one opinion among others, if not a mere speculation. Worse, scientific data that challenge partisan positions or economic interests are dismissed as ‘junk science’ and their proponents as ‘shills’ [Oreskes and Conway, 2010]. By echoing such statements, some members of the media, often willing accomplices in conflating denial and scepticism, amplify manufactured controversies and cast growing doubt upon scientific credibility.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

Conference Reviews

Mar 22, 2020 Conference Review
Report — 2nd meeting of mediation of knowledge and scientific culture

by Diogo Santos

On 3rd and 4th February, at Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Lisbon, Portugal), Ciência Viva organized the 2nd meeting of Mediation of Knowledge and Scientific Culture. This edition reunited politicians, teachers, science communicators and researchers to discuss culture, science communication and museums. The organization promoted workshops and invited three keynote speakers: Abdulaziz Alhegelan, Brian Trench and Ngaire Blankenberg who led discussions around cultural differences, science communication processes such as evaluation or impact, and how museums need to change to became more neutral.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020

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