Public understanding of science and technology

09/12/2021

The impact of human activity on our planet is undeniable. However, this matter of fact is not fully understandable without analyzing the narratives through which people make sense of it. In this study, we aim to describe the narratives present in environmental discourses of Mexican and French YouTubers' videos. This corpus is intended to show how environmental issues are framed in the ever-growing discursive arena of entertainment and “influencing” streaming video. We set out to perform a cross-country comparison, with the purpose of contributing to the discussion of whether environmental discourse is country-specific or shared by various nations and, possibly, even global. Our study contributes to the understanding of the social construction of the environment via these discourses. Our main result points to a paradoxical treatment of environmental issues: the YouTubers of our sample represent them as collectively induced problems, but seem to mainly believe that individual-based solutions would resolve them. More broadly, our study suggests a tendency to the individualization and, therefore, the depoliticization of environmental issues as well as a globalization of the environmental discourses in YouTubers' videos.

29/11/2021

Despite scientific consensus that genetically modified (GM) food is safe to eat, the American public remains skeptical. This study (N=73) investigates the proposed role of disgust in driving opposition to GM food, which is debated in extant literature. Using physiological measures of disgust, alongside self-report measures, this study suggests that disgust plays a role in driving skepticism toward GM food, but not other food and health technologies. We further discuss the possible influence of risk sensitivity and perceptions of unnaturalness on attitudes toward novel science.

22/11/2021

Social cues are used to facilitate online science communication, yet little is known about how they may play a role in online public engagement with science sites. This mixed-method study investigates r/science Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions on Reddit through content analysis and an online survey to identify the types and variations of social cues manifested in six r/science AMAs across varying disciplines. The study's contributions are twofold. One is to investigate social cue uses in online science communication; the other is to develop a coding scheme for social cues that incorporates both positive and negative social cues in the analysis.

15/11/2021

“Follow the science” became the mantra for responding to COVID-19 pandemic. However, for the public this also meant “follow the scientists”, and this led to uneasiness as some viewed scientists as not credible. We investigate how beliefs about the way scientists develop their findings affect pandemic-related views. Our analysis shows that beliefs about scientists' objectivity predict views regrading coronavirus-related risks, behavioral changes, and policy priorities. While political party identity also predicts views about COVID-19-related concerns, these vary by political leaders whose approaches embraced versus dismissed science-based strategies, highlighting the importance of perceptions of scientists in shaping pandemic-related attitudes and beliefs.

25/10/2021

The modern science festival movement has grown significantly since the Edinburgh International Science Festival launched in 1989. Hundreds of science festivals now occur annually and vary widely. This article examines how the term “science festival” is used within research and practice. We find that most research articles fail to describe the science festivals they study. A subsequent analysis of festival websites and other publicly available information confirms the wide variability of science festival formats, which suggests the need for descriptive information about science festivals in scholarly work.

11/10/2021

Understanding scientific concepts is a crucial factor in motivating dabblers at the start of co-created citizen science projects. This article describes PACMAC, a card-based cooperative card game aimed at introducing dabblers to hypothesis and falsifiability concepts through the visualization of a social perception map. The game was evaluated in five neighborhoods from El Salvador. The results showed that PACMAP is approachable for participants of different demographics to develop an understanding of the concepts of hypotheses and falsifiability.

22/09/2021

The inaugural "Mr. Science" Science Communication Conference was held in Suzhou, China on July 9, 2021. It was the largest Chinese conference on science communication study since the start of the 21st century. More than 260 scholars discussed the spirit and culture of science, science communication during the COVID-19 crisis, the public understanding of science, and the ethical aspects of science communication. The conference aimed to develop a system for researching science communication within China. This review outlines the content of the conference and summarizes the key trends in science communication research in China.

26/07/2021

To address science literacy issues, university faculty have to engage in effective science communication. However, social pressures from peers, administration, or the public may silence their efforts. The purpose of this study was to understand the effect of the spiral of silence on faculty's engagement with science communication. A survey was distributed to a census of tenure-track faculty at the University of Florida [UF], and the findings did not support the spiral of silence was occurring. However, follow-up interviews revealed faculty did not perceive their peers to value science communication and were more concerned about how the public felt about their research and communication.

26/05/2021

Little is known about how incidental exposure to news, interpersonal discussion, and the diversity of social networks interact in social media environments and for science-related issues. Using a U.S. nationally representative survey, we investigate how these features relate to factual knowledge of gene editing. Incidental exposure to science-related news interacts with interpersonal discussion and network heterogeneity and reveals that the relationship between incidental exposure to news and knowledge is strongest among those who discuss the least. Incidental exposure could alleviate knowledge gaps between the Facebook users who are the most and least involved in interpersonal discussions about science.

15/02/2021

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.

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