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Public Understanding of Science

Christopher P Scheitle, David R Johnson, Elaine Howard Ecklund
Measurement of public trust in sources of information about science primarily examines whether the public turns to the "science communication industry" for information about science. Research posits, however, that scientists are not the singular cultural authority on science. Here, we examine the extent to which people turn to religion and religious individuals for information about science. Drawing on a nationally representative survey of US adults, we examine what factors-when individuals have a question about science-shape respondent's likelihood of turning to science-based versus religion-based sources...
July 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kathrin Braun, Sabine Könninger
The article discusses a recent systemic turn in public participation in science studies. It reviews the main lines of criticism brought forward in science, technology and society towards public participation in science discourse and argues that much of it refers to the field's preoccupation with isolated, stage-managed minipublics. It then discusses a series of efforts in science, technology and society, and other fields to study public participation in a more systemic or holistic perspective. The article advances the argument that there are different ways of conceptualizing such a perspective, not all of which are well equipped to account for contestation, conflict and power...
July 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Afke Wieke Betten, Jacqueline E W Broerse, Frank Kupper
Synthetic biology is an emerging scientific field where engineers and biologists design and build biological systems for various applications. Developing synthetic biology responsibly in the public interest necessitates a meaningful societal dialogue. In this article, we argue that facilitating such a dialogue requires an understanding of how people make sense of synthetic biology. We performed qualitative research to unravel the underlying dynamics of problem setting and framing in citizen discussions on synthetic biology...
June 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Magda Osman, Amanda J Heath, Ragnar Löfstedt
Public regulators (such as European Food Safety Authority, European Medicines Agency, and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) are placing increasing demands on scientists to make uncertainties about their evidence transparent to the public. The stated goal is utilitarian, to inform and empower the public and ensure the accountability of policy and decision-making around the use of scientific evidence. However, it is questionable what constitutes uncertainty around the evidence on any given topic, and, while the goal is laudable, we argue the drive to increase transparency on uncertainty of the scientific process specifically does more harm than good, and may not serve the interests of those intended...
May 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Melanie Smallman
Over the past 10 years, numerous public debates on new and emerging science and technologies have taken place in the United Kingdom. In this article, we characterise the discourses emerging from these debates and compare them to the discourses in analogous expert scientific and policy reports. We find that while the public is broadly supportive of new scientific developments, they see the risks and social and ethical issues associated with them as unpredictable but inherent parts of the developments. In contrast, the scientific experts and policymakers see risks and social and ethical issues as manageable and quantifiable with more research and knowledge...
May 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Guoyan Wang, Jane Gregory, Xi Cheng, Yuting Yao
Our statistical analysis of research publications in the prestigious scientific journals Nature, Science and Cell reveals that papers represented by an image on the journal's cover gain many more citations in the academic literature than those papers in the same journals that are not represented on the cover. Meanwhile, the number of images used by high-prestige journals is much higher than that used by journals in general, which indicates both the emergence of a new aesthetic of prestige scientific publication, and also that this aesthetic is relevant to journals' impact...
May 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Jane de Almeida, Cicero Inacio da Silva, Alfredo Suppia, Brett Stalbaum
The article examines the conditions of production and recognition of scientific cinema in Brazil by comparing three distinct moments and contexts: the first moment takes place in the nineteenth century, and it is related to the contribution of a Brazilian astronomer otherwise little known to Brazilian film scholars, the second addresses Benedito Junqueira Duarte's voluminous mid-twentieth-century filmography, and the third moment documents recent scientific film experiences within ultra high resolution movies transmitted over photonic networks...
July 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Cristiano Turbil
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
July 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Greg Eghigian
Reports of unidentified flying objects and alien encounters have sparked amateur research (ufology), government investigations, and popular interest in the subject. Historically, however, scientists have generally greeted the topic with skepticism, most often dismissing ufology as pseudoscience and believers in unidentified flying objects and aliens as irrational or abnormal. Believers, in turn, have expressed doubts about the accuracy of academic science. This study examines the historical sources of the mutual mistrust between ufologists and scientists...
July 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Aik-Ling Tan, Jennifer Ann Jocz, Junqing Zhai
This study addresses the influence of popular media on how young children perceive science and the work of scientists. Using an adapted version of the Draw-A-Scientist Test, 15 classes of fourth graders (9-10 years old) at three different schools in Singapore were sampled ( n =  266). The students' drawings as well as their identification of three sources from which they obtained inspiration for their drawings were analyzed. Our results showed a strong relationship between students' drawings of scientists and their reported sources of inspiration...
July 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Rupert Cole
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Rob Bellamy, Javier Lezaun
In a short period of time, climate 'geoengineering' has been added to the list of technoscientific issues subject to deliberative public engagement. Here, we analyse this rapid trajectory of publicization and explore the particular manner in which the possibility of intentionally altering the Earth's climate system to curb global warming has been incorporated into the field of 'public engagement with science'. We describe the initial framing of geoengineering as a singular object of debate and subsequent attempts to 'unframe' the issue by placing it within broader discursive fields...
May 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Branden B Johnson
Publicized disputes between groups of scientists may force lay choices about groups' credibility. One possible, little studied, credibility cue is vote-counting (proportions of scientists on either side): for example, "97%" of climate scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change. An online sample of 2600 Americans read a mock article about a scientific dispute, in a 13 (proportions: 100%-0%, 99%-1%, … 50%-50%, … 1%-99%, 0%-100% for Positions A and B, respectively) × 8 (scenarios: for example, dietary salt, dark matter) between-person experiment...
April 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Miguel Alcíbar
This study explores the role that information visualisation played in the popularisation of the technical-biomedical aspects of the last Ebola virus epidemic, the most devastating to date. Applying content analysis methods, the total population of information visualisations ( N = 209) was coded and analysed to identify topics, and to define features and identify patterns in the images. The corpus was based on the record of articles with graphics appearing in five Spanish reference newspapers from 22 March 2014 to 13 January 2016, the start and suppression of the epidemic, respectively...
April 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Vincenzo Pavone, Kirstie Ball, Sara Degli Esposti, Sally Dibb, Elvira Santiago-Gómez
This article investigates the normative and procedural criteria adopted by European citizens to assess the acceptability of surveillance-oriented security technologies. It draws on qualitative data gathered at 12 citizen summits in nine European countries. The analysis identifies 10 criteria, generated by citizens themselves, for a socially informed security policy. These criteria not only reveal the conditions, purposes and operation rules that would make current European security policies and technologies more consistent with citizens' priorities...
April 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Hsiang-Fu Huang
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Tiago Santos Pereira, António Carvalho, Paulo F C Fonseca
This article explores the evolution of the nuclear energy debate and its associated controversies in the Portuguese parliament. The analysis focuses on the dictatorial regime of the New State (from the beginning of the nuclear program in 1951 until the 1974 revolution) and on the democratic period (post-1974). Portugal, as an exporting country of uranium minerals, significantly invested in the development of a national capacity in nuclear research, but never developed an endogenous nuclear power infrastructure...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Ana Aliende Urtasun, Asunción Luquin, Julián J Garrido
This research examines the evolution of nuclear technology in Spain from the early years of the Franco dictatorship to the global financial crisis and technology's influence on Spanish culture. To this end, we take a sociological perspective, with science culture and social perceptions of risk in knowledge societies serving as the two elements of focus in this work. In this sense, this article analyses the transformation of social relationships in light of technological changes. We propose technology as a strategic place to observe the institutional and organisational dynamics of technologic-scientific risks, the expert role and Spain's science culture...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Aliaksandr Novikau
The Belarusian government's decision of the last decade to build a nuclear power plant near the city of Ostrovets, in northern Belarus, has proven to be controversial, resulting in a great deal of debate about nuclear energy in the country. The debate was inevitably shaped by the traumatic event that affected Belarus - the Chernobyl nuclear accident of 1986. The Belarusian authorities have consistently promoted a positive view of nuclear energy to the population in order to overcome the so-called 'Chernobyl syndrome' and deliberately shaped nuclear risk communication...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
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