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Public Understanding of Science

Josh Pasek
Individuals who provide incorrect answers to scientific knowledge questions have long been considered scientifically illiterate. Yet, increasing evidence suggests that motivated reasoning, rather than ignorance, may explain many of these incorrect answers. This article uses novel survey measures to assess two processes by which motivated reasoning might lead to incorrect personal beliefs: motivated individuals may fail to identify the presence of a scientific consensus on some issue or they may recognize a consensus while questioning its veracity...
September 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
John C Besley, Anthony Dudo, Shupei Yuan
This study looks at how United States-based academic scientists from five professional scientific societies think about eight different communication objectives. The degree to which scientists say they would prioritize these objectives in the context of face-to-face public engagement is statistically predicted using the scientists' attitudes, normative beliefs, and efficacy beliefs, as well as demographics and past communication activity, training, and past thinking about the objectives. The data allow for questions about the degree to which such variables consistently predict views about objectives...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Melissa L Carrion
Individuals who refuse vaccines are often painted as anti-science or ill-informed. However, drawing from interviews with 50 mothers who refused one or more vaccines ( n = 50), results from this study suggest that such depictions lack nuance and may detract from the ability of communication efforts to effectively address concerns. In particular, participants' explanations for vaccine refusal relied on paradoxical arguments about science and expertise. On one hand, participants defended the ideal of science but criticized existing research for failing to meet requisite standards...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Robin E Jensen, Allison N Blumling
Members of the lay public often draw from vernacular science knowledge-or metaphors, images, and terms related to technical science-to make normative assessments about behavior. Yet, little is known about vernacular science knowledge in terms of its forms and functions. In a national survey, US adults ( N = 688) were asked to identify an ideal age for first pregnancy, and to explain their decision. Participants drew from arguments related to hormonal processes, the language of risk, and the quality and quantity of "eggs" to navigate and identify an ideal timeline for first pregnancy...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Montaña Cámara, Ana Muñoz van den Eynde, José A López Cerezo
Using data obtained from Spanish surveys on the public perception of science, this article presents a critical review of current practices of population profile segmentation, including the one-dimensional representation of perceived risks and benefits and of the systematic underestimation of critical attitudes to the social impact of science and technology. We use discriminant analysis to detect a somewhat hidden cluster in the Spanish population which we call 'critical engagers'. These individuals are critically and socially responsible and are not reticent about expressing concern regarding scientific-technological change...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Niels Mejlgaard
It is a distinctive feature of European science policy that science is expected to meet economic and broader societal objectives simultaneously. Science should be governed democratically and take significant responsibilities towards the economy, the political system and civil society, but the coherency of these multiple claims is underexplored. Using metrics that emerge from both quantitative and qualitative studies, we examine the interrelatedness of different responsibilities at the level of countries. A total of 33 European Union member states and associated countries are included in the analysis...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Pascale Lehoux, Fiona A Miller, Dominique Grimard, Philippe Gauthier
Considering that public engagement is pivotal to the mission of Responsible Research and Innovation, this article's aim is to examine how members of the public conceive of the relationship between responsibility and prospective health technologies. We organized four face-to-face deliberative workshops and an online forum wherein participants were invited to comment on scenarios involving three fictional technologies in 2030 and 2040. Our analyses describe how participants anticipated these technologies' impacts and formulated two conditions for their use: they should (1) be embedded within professional care and services and (2) include social protection of individual freedom and privacy...
August 1, 2017: Public Understanding of Science
Naoko Kato-Nitta, Tadahiko Maeda, Kensuke Iwahashi, Masashi Tachikawa
Despite the promotion of public engagement in science, there has been little empirical research on the sociocultural and attitudinal characteristics of participants in science communication activities and the extent to which such individuals are representative of the general population. We statistically investigated the distinctiveness of visitors to a scientific research institution by contrasting samples from visitor surveys and nationally representative surveys. The visitors had more cultural capital (science and technology/art and literature) and believed more in the value of science than the general public, but there was no difference regarding assessment of the levels of national science or of the national economy...
August 1, 2017: 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
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
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
Rupert Cole
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 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
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