Public perception of science and technology

11/12/2013

This paper analyses the adoption of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) by Spanish journalists specialising in science. Applying an ethnographic research model, this study was based on a wide sample of professionals, aiming to evaluate the extent by which science journalists have adopted the new media and changed the way they use information sources. In addition, interviewees were asked whether in their opinion the Web 2.0 has had an impact on the quality of the news. The integration of formats certainly implies a few issues for today’s newsrooms. Finally, with the purpose of improving the practice of science information dissemination, the authors put forward a few proposals, namely: Increasing the training of Spanish science journalists in the field of new technologies; Emphasising the accuracy of the information and the validation of sources; Rethinking the mandates and the tasks of information professionals.

24/09/2013

For lay people, mass media are the main source of scientific information; that is why science journalists’ selection and depiction of scientific issues is an important field to study. This paper investigates science journalists’ general issue selection and additionally focuses on science journalists’ depiction of nanoscale science and technology and its related scientific evidence (certainty/uncertainty of research findings). Face-to-face interviews with science journalists (n = 21) from different German media channels were conducted. The results show that the professional role conception, personal interest, news factors and organizational processes mainly influence the selection of science journalists. Overall, journalists have increasingly positive attitudes towards nanoscale science and technology. But results indicate that the coverage of scientific evidence differs according to the science journalists’ focus on beneficial or risky aspects of this emerging technology: journalists stress scientific uncertainty predominantly when discussing the risks of nanoscale science and technology.

28/01/2013

Various science events including Science Cafés have been held in Japan. However, there is the question whether these are events in which all people in society can participate? In particular, methods for checking whether or not the event attracts the participants targeted by the organizers have not yet been well established. In this paper, the authors have designed a simplified questionnaire to identify the participants’ attitudes toward science, technology and society, which can then be grouped into four clusters. When applied to various science cafés, the results revealed that participants consisted of Cluster 1 “Inquisitive  type” and Cluster 2 “Sciencephile” who are interested in science and technology. The cafes studied did not provide sufficient appeal to people of Clusters 3 and  4 who are not interested in science and technology without applying some inventive methods. Our method provides a means of objectivelyevaluating the tendencies of participants in science communication events in order to improve the spread of science communications within society.

17/05/2012

Should one aim at presenting a local or global science perspective in construing an effective museum narration for communicating scientific and technological issues in natural science? This article will attempt to respond to this question by presenting the data of an evaluation exercise undertaken by the Trento Natural History Museum (Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali – MTSN) from 2009 to 2011. The local dimension apparently lies at the heart of the museum’s appeal for its visitors: they associate their mountain surroundings with the symbol of the region’s identity, and appreciate in particular the efforts undertaken by the museum to communicate and conserve the mountain’s environment. Indeed, in their opinion, by protecting the mountains and disseminating knowledge about them, the museum indirectly acts as a custodian of the region’s own identity. However, interest in local issues far from rules out global scientific themes, whose presence is sought to complement and interact with the local discourse.

15/02/2012

Most accounts of an ideal scientific discourse proscribe ad hominem appeals as one way to distinguish it from public discourse. Because of their frequent use of ad hominem attacks, the Climategate email messages provoked strong criticisms of climate scientists and climate science. This study asks whether the distinction between public and scientific discourse holds in this case and thus whether the exclusion of ad hominem arguments from scientific discourse is valid. The method of analysis comes from the field of informal logic in which argument fallacies like the ad hominem are classified and assessed. The approach in this study focuses on a functional analysis of ad hominem—their uses rather than their classification. The analysis suggests three distinct functional uses of ad hominem remarks among the Climategate emails: (1) indirect, (2) tactical, and (3) meta-. Consistent with previous research on ad hominem arguments in both public and scientific discourse, these results reinforce the common opinion of their fallacious character. Only the remarks of the last type, the meta- ad hominem, seemed to be non-fallacious in that they might help to preempt the very use of ad hominem attacks in scientific discourse.

23/05/2011

Regenerative medicine (RM) has the potential to strongly impact on society. To determine non-experts’ impressions of RM, we analyzed opinions obtained from workshops in which participants freely discussed RM. Three major features were apparent. First, non-experts were most concerned with the possible effects of RM after it has been fully realized in society. Second, non-experts expressed concerns not only about RM itself, but also about the governance and operation of the technology. Third, non-experts were not only concerned about direct influences of RM, but also about its potential indirect influences. These identified features are likely to be controversial issues when RM is introduced into society. It is important to promote early discussion of these issues by society as a whole.

09/03/2011

A survey we carried out in upper secondary schools showed that the majority of the students consider physics as an important resource, yet as essentially connected to technology in strict terms, and not contributing “culture”, being too difficult a subject. Its appreciation tends to fade as their education progresses through the grades. The search for physics communication methods to increase interest and motivation among students prompted the Department of Physics at the University of Milan to establish the Laboratory of ScienzATeatro (SAT) in 2004. Up to May 2010, SAT staged three shows and one lesson-show having physics as a main theme, for students attending any grades at school. Good indicators of the efficacy of those shows are: the number of repeats (256 of them up to May 2010), the reputation of the theatres in which they were performed, and the results of two surveys on the achievement of the goals, which saw the participation of over 50 classes each.

27/08/2009

Public opinions toward emergent technologies may be highly dependent on the manner in which people are introduced to these technologies for the very first time. In this light, understanding how such first introductions are related to adolescents’ information seeking behaviors and their developing opinions may be particularly interesting because this target public can be considered to be not only future users of the technology but also future decision makers of its development. The present paper presents a case study of the introduction of ecogenomics among 246 adolescents who were asked to inform themselves about this technology and to write two essays: one that would reflect their personal opinions, and another that would reflect their advice to the Dutch government about further funding of ecogenomics research. Results showed that the Internet was by far their preferred source of information and that most adolescents held positive attitudes toward ecogenomics as expressed in essays that reflected their personal opinions and advice to others. In their perspective, ecogenomics was a positive development in science because of expected benefits concerning medical and environmental applications, such as the potential discovery of new antibiotics and the possible use in bioremediation.

20/07/2009

The present article investigates public understanding of HIV/AIDS related issues that touch the thought structure of common citizen, among the Indian public. Analysis is based on a representative sample collected from 10 states of India. The authors have also analysed the relative cultural distance at which men and women, as separate groups, could be placed. The relative cultural distance, for each of the selected issues, has been computed and it was found that men, as a group, are closer to scientific thought structure compared to women.

30/04/2009

Brazilian research has grown intensely in all areas of microbiology, with the increase in the amount of governmental resources for the sector and the strengthening of a greater number of research groups. However, very few academic studies deal with research about teaching and science communication in microbiology. There is no in-depth study of how this topic is currently being divulgated in communication journals, didactic books and the Internet, or about the interest and the difficulties faced by researchers in communicating microbiology to the general public. This paper investigates academic production on science communication and the teaching of microbiology in Brazil and contextualizes the need for studies about the ways and means through which this activity is being carried out.

Pages

Subscribe to Public perception of science and technology