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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
Merryn McKinnon, Johanna Howes, Andrew Leach, Natasha Prokop
Scientists, science communicators and science journalists interact to deliver science news to the public. Yet the value of interactions between the groups in delivering high-quality science stories is poorly understood within Australia. A recent study in New Zealand on the perspectives of the three groups on the challenges facing science journalism is replicated here in the context of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. While all three groups perceived the quality of science journalism as generally high, the limitations of non-specialists and public relation materials were causes for concern...
March 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Bankole A Falade, Martin W Bauer
This study, of modern common sense in Nigeria, combines questionnaires and interviews to examine the compatibility and incompatibility of religion and science. Nigeria is a large country with a complex diversity of religious, ethnic and cultural practices that condition the reception and elaboration of science in everyday life. We find evaluative attitudes to science structured as 'progress', 'fear' and 'mythical image'. Scientific knowledge and religiosity have a direct bearing on expectations of progress and feeling of fear and worry about science; mythical image is independent of this...
February 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
Salla Ahola
Whether people blindly trust experts on all occasions or whether they evaluate experts' views and question them if necessary is a vital question. This study investigates associations of human values with the readiness to question experts' views and one's reasons for not disagreeing with experts among randomly sampled Finns. Readiness to question experts' views and one's reasons for not disagreeing were inferred from self-reported written accounts. Value priorities were measured with Schwartz et al.'s Portrait Values Questionnaire and Wach and Hammer's items concerning rational and non-rational truth...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Mari K Niemi, Ville Pitkänen
Several studies conducted in Western democracies have indicated that men continue to be overrepresented and women underrepresented as experts in the media. This article explores the situation in Finland, a progressive and 'female-friendly' Nordic country with highly educated women who are widely present in the job market. The analysis is based on three sets of research data featuring a wide set of media data, a survey and interviews. This study reveals that public expertise continues to be male dominated in Finland: less than 30% of the experts interviewed in the news media are women...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Marja Ylönen, Tapio Litmanen, Matti Kojo, Pirita Lindell
When the Fukushima accident occurred in March 2011, Finland was at the height of a nuclear renaissance, with the Government's decision-in-principle in 2010 to allow construction of two new nuclear reactors. This article examines the nuclear power debate in Finland after Fukushima. We deploy the concepts of (de)politicisation and hyperpoliticisation in the analysis of articles in the country's main newspaper. Our analysis indicates that Finnish nuclear exceptionalism manifested in the safety-related depoliticising and the nation's prosperity-related hyperpoliticisation arguments of the pro-nuclear camp...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Clara Rubincam
This article highlights how African men and women in South Africa account for the plausibility of alternative beliefs about the origins of HIV and the existence of a cure. This study draws on the notion of a "street-level epistemology of trust"-knowledge generated by individuals through their everyday observations and experiences-to account for individuals' trust or mistrust of official claims versus alternative explanations about HIV and AIDS. Focus group respondents describe how past experiences, combined with observations about the power of scientific developments and perceptions of disjunctures in information, fuel their uncertainty and skepticism about official claims...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Nathan F Dieckmann, Branden B Johnson, Robin Gregory, Marcus Mayorga, Paul K J Han, Paul Slovic
Expert disputes can present laypeople with several challenges including trying to understand why such disputes occur. In an online survey of the US public, we used a psychometric approach to elicit perceptions of expert disputes for 56 forecasts sampled from seven domains. People with low education, or with low self-reported topic knowledge, were most likely to attribute disputes to expert incompetence. People with higher self-reported knowledge tended to attribute disputes to expert bias due to financial or ideological reasons...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kristian H Nielsen, Mads P Sørensen
This commentary argues that we need to take ignorance and non-knowledge seriously in the fields of science communication and public understanding of science. As much as we want ignorance to disappear, it seems that it is here to stay-in the sciences and in the rest of society. Drawing on the vast but scattered literature on ignorance and non-knowledge, we suggest that paying closer attention to these phenomena could be beneficial for science communicators. Despite the fact that ignorance and non-knowledge, just like knowledge, today are highly politicized fields, they may also open up for new lines of inquiry and may be key to more pluralistic and equal democratic deliberation about science and technology...
April 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kristrún Gunnarsdóttir, Kjetil Rommetveit
The decision in Europe to implement biometric passports, visas and residence permits was made at the highest levels without much consultation, checks and balances. Council regulation came into force relatively unnoticed in January 2005, as part of wider securitization policies urging systems interoperability and data sharing across borders. This article examines the biometric imaginary that characterizes this European Union decision, dictated by executive powers in the policy vacuum after 9/11 - a depiction of mobility governance, technological necessity and whom/what to trust or distrust, calling upon phantom publics to justify decisions rather than test their grounding...
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kjetil Rommetveit, Brian Wynne
This essay begins from the intensified entanglements of technoscientific innovation with miscellaneous societal and public fields of interest and action over recent years. This has been accompanied by an apparent decline in the work of purification of discourses of natural and human agency, which Latour observed in 1993. Replacing such previous discursive purifications, we increasingly find technoscientific visions of the imagined-possible as key providers of public meanings and policies. This poses the question of what forms of legitimation are constituted by these sciences, including the ways in which they enter into articulations of public matters...
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Luigi Pellizzoni
A common thread in the contributions to this special issue can be found in the Foucauldian notion of intensification. Technoscientific imaginaries and publics have long been embroiled; yet, elements of novelty in their relationship can be detected in the ambivalence of the overcoming of traditional purification work; the expanding production of 'prototypical' truths; the uncertain threshold between publics of enquirers, witnesses and lookouts; and the growing indistinction of the everyday and the sublime, of trivial and non-trivial futures...
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kjetil Rommetveit, Brian Wynne
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Ana Delgado, Blanca Callén
In recent years, there has been an explosion of do it yourself, maker and hacker spaces in Europe. Through makers and do-it-yourself initiatives, 'hacking' is moving into the everyday life of citizens. This article explores the collective and political nature of those hacks by reporting on empirical work on electronic waste and do-it-yourself biology hacking. Using Dewey's experimental approach to politics, we analyse hacks as 'inquiry' to see how they serve to articulate public and political action. We argue that do-it-yourself and makers' hacks are technical and political demonstrations...
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Kate O'Riordan, Aristea Fotopoulou, Neil Stephens
In this article, we analyse a 2013 press conference hosting the world's first tasting of a laboratory grown hamburger. We explore this as a media event: an exceptional performative moment in which common meanings are mobilised and a connection to a shared centre of reality is offered. We develop our own theoretical contribution - the promotional public - to characterise the affirmative and partial patchwork of carefully selected actors invoked during the burger tasting. Our account draws on three areas of analysis: interview data with the scientists who developed the burger, media analysis of the streamed press conference itself and media analysis of social media during and following the event...
February 2017: Public Understanding of Science
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