Public Understanding of Science

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 1361-6609
Print ISSN: 0963-6625
Publications
The history of the Italian scientific documentary is not very well known nor, with the exception of the pioneer efforts in cinema, is it contemplated in the more complete studies of the evolution of the genre. This article aims to outline the ground covered by Italian scientific cinema in the first 50 years of its existence, from the pioneering works by Roberto Omegna to the industrial documentaries of the 1950s.
 
NO-DO 321-B, 1949. Copyright Archivo Histórico NO-DO, Filmoteca Española, Ministerio de Cultura. Reproduced with permission.  
NO-DO 321-B, 1949. Copyright Archivo Histórico NO-DO, Filmoteca Española, Ministerio de Cultura. Reproduced with permission.  
NO-DO 511-A, 1952. Copyright Archivo Histórico NO-DO, Filmoteca Española, Ministerio de Cultura. Reproduced with permission.  
NO-DO 35-A, 1943. Copyright Archivo Histórico NO-DO, Filmoteca Española, Ministerio de Cultura. Reproduced with permission.  
NO-DO, the Spanish official newsreel produced by Franco's dictatorship (1939-1975), held a 30-year monopoly over audio-visual information in Spain from 1943 to 1975. This paper reports on an analysis of coverage of medical technologies by the Spanish Cinematic Newsreel Service, NO-DO, from 1943 to 1970. The study focuses on the changing roles played by cultural representations of medical technologies deployed in NO-DO. Our analysis shows how these representations offered a new space for the legitimization of the regime, and, more importantly, played a key role in the attempts to construct and enforce a hegemonic national identity after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). During the period of isolationist autocracy that ended in the mid-1950s, the images of medical technologies reinforced the idea of a self-sufficient "national space" and deepened the break with the historical past. Once the international isolation of the regime was overcome in the late 1950s and the 1960s, the representation of medical technologies contributed to establishing a Spanish national identity that mirrored the outside world, the foreign space. Finally, gender representations in NO-DO are also explored.
 
Considerable attention has been paid to the representation of scientists as villains in horror and science fiction films, and to the part this has played in creating the public perception of scientists. But science and scientists have also been represented in films which do not fit readily with the conventions of these genres, and these "mainstream" films allow a more detailed investigation of the public perception of science at the time they were made. This paper examines a number of British mainstream films portraying scientists and science from the period 1945-1970 to see in what ways the conduct of science was being questioned. A concern with the political control of science and the resulting secrecy is evident in a number of the films. The criticism of scientists seems to come from two contradictory directions. Scientists were either seen as too detached and unconcerned about the consequences of their work, or they were too emotional and insufficiently objective. This is in part explained by newer, less deferential attitudes to science co-existing with the older, heroic view during the period under study.
 
Number of articles on hormonal contraception published in ABC, Blanco y Negro and Triunfo (1964–1978).  
From 1941 to 1978, Franco's regime in Spain banned all contraceptive methods. The pill started circulating in Spain from the 1960s, officially as a drug used in gynaecological therapy. However, in the following decade it was also increasingly used and prescribed as a contraceptive. This paper analyses debates about the contraceptive pill in the Spanish daily newspaper ABC and in two magazines, Blanco y Negro and Triunfo, in the 1960s and 1970s. It concludes that the debate on this contraceptive method was much more heterogeneous than might be expected given the Catholic-conservative character of the dictatorship. The daily press focused on the adverse effects of the drug and magazines concentrated on the ethical and religious aspects of the pill and discussed it in a generally positive light. Male doctors and Catholic authors dominated the debate.
 
Health issues and medical science receive a lot of attention on television. Of all the sciences, the European public is most interested in medicine, and the public uses television as their main source of information on science. There has been hardly any empirical research, however, into the historical development of the representation of medical science on television. The development of medical television was explored by carrying out a content analysis of Dutch non-fiction medical television programs spanning a period of 40 years. The speaking time allotted to experts has decreased over the years, while that allotted to laypeople has increased. We are seeing fewer references to sources and science and more expression of emotion and tension. The results suggest three periods of medical television: a scientific, a journalistic and a lay period. Medical television in 2000 shows a personified picture of patients against an instrumentalized and symbolized medical backdrop.
 
This article examines the longitudinal development of environmental news reporting in Swedish television over an extended period of time, 1961-2010. It returns to Anthony Downs's (1972) seminal article on issue attention cycles when analyzing the cyclic nature of environmental news reporting and advances the issue attention cycle framework by introducing the concept of metacycles as it explores the trajectory of environmental news reporting. Metacycles refers to the major fluctuations in attention to the entire domain of environmental issues over time, while issue cycles refer to the oscillation in attention pertaining to single issues. The article analyzes the pattern of the metacycles, and investigates how cycles of attention to individual issues contribute to the shaping of the environmental metacycles in the news.
 
The current conception of political participation in governmental institutions is deeply marked by the notions of deliberation and precaution. This normative conception of participatory politics neglects, backgrounds or disqualifies other participatory practices, in so far as they are not connected to deliberation and precaution. However, participation has not always been defined in such a restricted way: the current conception of participation is a product of the 1980s and 1990s. In this paper, the meaning ascribed to the notion of participation in the 1970s in France is explored through the study of discourses produced in three fields: the Science Policy Division of the OECD, the French radical science movement, and the emerging STS academic field. As is shown, some of the bases of the current notion of participation originate in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it is argued that in these years, the notion of participation has more to do with experimentation than with deliberation and precaution. Therefore, the conception of participation in the 1970s differs greatly from the current one. Methodologically, this paper combines tools offered by the social history of science and the French school of discourse analysis.
 
In the early 1980s the computer entered the British home in significant numbers for the first time as many thousands of people purchased their first personal 'microcomputer'. In this paper I explore the educational character of the home computer boom, a response to unease over the impact of new information technologies. Media, government, social movements and computer manufacturers constituted a systematic effort to enhance the public understanding of a new technology that was anticipated to change the world.
 
Coding frame for primary content tags.
Cartoon by Howard McWilliam, which appeared in the Telegraph 30 November 2009 to illustrate a story by Alison Steed, “Floods: 500,000 homes could become unsellable”. Reproduced with permission of the artist, www.mcbill.plus.com 
Our analysis of 2707 news stories explores the framing of flooding in Britain over the past quarter century and the displacement of a once dominant understanding of flooding as an agricultural problem of land drainage by the contemporary concern for its urban impacts, particularly to homes and property. We document dramatic changes in the volume and variety of reporting about flooding since 2000 as the risks of flooding have become more salient, the informal 'Gentlemen's Agreement' between government and private insurers has broken down, and flood management subjected to greater public scrutiny. While the historic reliance on private insurance remains largely unchallenged, we show that other aspects of flood hazard management are now topics of active political debate to which the looming threat of climate change adds both urgency and exculpatory excuses for poor performance. We conclude by reflecting on the significance of the case for grand theories of neoliberalisation and governmentality.
 
Climate change has become a pressing environmental concern for scientists, social commentators and politicians. Previous social science research has explored media representations of climate change in various temporal and geographical contexts. Through the lens of Social Representations Theory, this article provides a detailed qualitative thematic analysis of media representations of climate change in the 1988 British broadsheet press, given that this year constitutes an important juncture in this transition of climate change from the domain of science to that of the socio-political sphere. The following themes are outlined: (i) "Climate change: a multi-faceted threat"; (ii) "Collectivisation of threat"; (iii) "Climate change and the attribution of blame"; and (iv) "Speculative solutions to a complex socio-environmental problem." The article provides detailed empirical insights into the "starting-point" for present-day disputes concerning climate change and lays the theoretical foundations for tracking the continuities and discontinuities characterising social representations of climate change in the future.
 
Number of newspaper articles on the IPCC in Asahi, Yomiuri, and Mainichi from 1988 to 2007. 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) plays a significant role in bridging the boundary between climate science and politics. Media coverage is crucial for understanding how climate science is communicated and embedded in society. This study analyzes the discursive construction of the IPCC in three Japanese newspapers from 1988 to 2007 in terms of the science-politics boundary. The results show media discourses engaged in boundary-work which rhetorically separated science and politics, and constructed the iconic image of the IPCC as a pure scientific authority. In the linkages between the global and national arenas of climate change, the media "domesticate" the issue, translating the global nature of climate change into a discourse that suits the national context. We argue that the Japanese media's boundary-work is part of the media domestication that reconstructed the boundary between climate science and politics reflecting the Japanese context.
 
There is widespread agreement that the potential of gene therapy was oversold in the early 1990s. This study, however, comparing written material from the British, Danish and German gene therapy discourses of the period finds significant differences: Over-optimism was not equally strong everywhere; gene therapy was not universally hyped. Against that background, attention is directed towards another area of variation in the material: different basic assumptions about science and scientists. Exploring such culturally rooted assumptions and beliefs and their possible significance to science communication practices, it is argued that deep beliefs may constitute drivers of hype that are particularly difficult to deal with. To participants in science communication, the discouragement of hype, viewed as a practical-ethical challenge, can be seen as a learning exercise that includes critical attention to internalised beliefs.
 
This paper explores public attitudes towards science and nature in twelve countries using data from the International Social Survey Programme environment modules of 1993, 2000, and 2010. Analysis of attitude items indicates technocentric and pessimistic dimensions broadly related to the Dominant Social Paradigm and New Environmental Paradigm. A bi-axial dimension scale is utilized to classify respondents among four environmental knowledge orientations. Discernible and significant patterns are found among countries and their populations. Relationships with other substantial variables in the surveys are discussed and findings show that the majority of industrialized countries are clustered in the rational ecologist categorization with respondents possessing stronger ecological consciousness and optimism towards the role of modern institutions, science, and technology in solving environmental problems.
 
Biomedical research and technologies such as cloning, stem cell research, and the deciphering of the human genome have met with opposition--albeit of different intensity--motivated by ethical values. The debates over the continuation of research and the implementation of the respective technologies are being staged in the mass media. The media have assumed the function of edding" controversial knowledge and technologies into society by using public discourse. The hypothesis is that these discourses follow a common pattern revealing the process of "embedding," and ultimately leading to a change of existing values. In this study, three debates over cloning, stem cell research and the Human Genome Project are analyzed in ten German daily and weekly newspapers over the period 1995-2004. It is shown that the patterns of reporting are more complex than anticipated. Rather than being identical for all technologies, they reveal different courses depending on the kind of knowledge/technology and value sensitivity.
 
How are industry and environmentalist discourses of climate risk related to dominant scientific and political discourses? This study operationalizes Bourdieu's concept of symbolic capital in order to map dimensions of risk description and prescription onto a journalistic field of industry, environmentalist, scientific, and political media. Results show that conventional definitions of risk mirror an opposition between scientific and political discourses. Prescriptions for action on risk are partly autonomous from definitions however. Environmentalist and scientific media feature more proactive discourse, and industry and political media feature more reactive discourse. Implications for future research on climate risk and relational studies of media discourse are discussed.
 
In December 2006, the Australian Parliament liberalized regulation governing stem cell research. This decision and preceding legislative review generated considerable public debate, which centred on objections to the deliberate creation and destruction of human embryos for research purposes. This paper draws on qualitative research conducted on the public debate surrounding this policy episode. The aim of this research was to examine how science and scientific knowledge are mobilized by participants in these debates to support their arguments. Data were collected from 109 newspaper opinion editorials as well as 23 in-depth interviews and examined using qualitative content and thematic analysis. Results of this analysis depict science as a rhetorical, moral and political resource that provides opportunities for participants to gain legitimacy, negotiate meaning and assert authority in the public domain. The mobilization of science in public discourse is discussed along with suggestions that are aimed at encouraging greater transparency and inclusiveness in public debates around contested science and emergent technologies.
 
Model E: science knowledge from the 2006 GSS, life sciences and physical sciences dimensions, young earth facts.  
Descriptive statistics: Number of cases and percent correct for NSF science knowledge items in each wave of GSS. 
Models estimated with first half of 2006 sample and tested on subsequent samples. 
Comparison of models D and E with the bible variable added.
High scientific literacy is widely considered a public good. Methods of assessing public scientific knowledge or literacy are equally important. In an effort to measure lay scientific literacy in the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) science literacy scale has been a part of the last three waves of the General Social Survey. However, there has been debate over the validity of some survey items as indicators of science knowledge. While many researchers treat the NSF science scale as measuring a single dimension, previous work (Bann and Schwerin, 2004; Miller, 1998, 2004) suggests a bidimensional structure. This paper hypothesizes and tests a new measurement model for the NSF science knowledge scale and finds that two items about evolution and the big bang are more measures of a religious belief dimension termed "Young Earth Worldview" than they are measures of scientific knowledge. Results are replicated in seven samples.
 
Percentage of analysed traditional ( n = 141) and social media stories ( n = 175) covering the Irish dioxin crisis by date. 
Main coding categories, codes and descriptions.
Presence of categories of sources in newspaper articles and blog and forum postings.
Distribution of primary story topics in newspaper articles and social media postings.
The world of communication has changed significantly in the last decade as a result of the evolution of social media. Food crisis managers and communicators should be cognizant of the messages presented to the public by all media channels during a crisis. Using the 2008 Irish dioxin contamination incident as an example, a quantitative content analysis was carried out to investigate the relationship between social and traditional media. Messages published in printed newspapers (n = 141), blogs and forums (n = 107), and Twitter (n = 68) were analysed to investigate sourcing practice, story topic and use of tone. Results revealed that traditional media relied on diverse offline sources in reporting a wide range of topics. In comparison, social media responded faster and diminished faster, using offline and online media news messages as the primary sources in reporting very limited topics. No significant difference was found in the presence of negative tone across media.
 
Genetically modified foods have become one of the most popular topics for deliberative exercises involving ordinary citizens worldwide. This paper examines the Taiwanese consensus conference on GM foods held in June 2008, and the implications and limitations of the public deliberations. The consensus conference facilitated multiparty dialogues and enhanced citizens' knowledge, and affected their attitudes. This study demonstrates the ways contextual factors have influenced the outcome of the citizens' deliberative practices, including the government's conventional technocratic decision-making style, the strong influence of the U.S. government, the political and technological culture, the government's framing of economic development concerns, and a lack of pressure from civil society to compel the government to formally respond to their concerns. The consensus conference had a limited effect on policy decision-making, and seemed to serve as a socio-political experiment.
 
Top half: Percentages of mentions of categories of collectives across three waves of interviews. Bottom half: Percentages of mentions of categories of collectives in newspaper articles across three time periods. Bars within waves (i.e., same-colored bars) add to 100%.
Categories of collectives mentioned in relation with the H1N1 pandemic.
We investigate dynamics of public perceptions of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic to understand changing patterns of sense-making and blame regarding the outbreak of emerging infectious diseases. We draw on social representation theory combined with a dramaturgical perspective to identify changes in how various collectives are depicted over the course of the pandemic, according to three roles: heroes, villains and victims. Quantitative results based on content analysis of three cross-sectional waves of interviews show a shift from mentions of distant collectives (e.g., far-flung countries) at Wave 1 to local collectives (e.g., risk groups) as the pandemic became of more immediate concern (Wave 2) and declined (Wave 3). Semi-automated content analysis of media coverage shows similar results. Thematic analyses of the discourse associated with collectives revealed that many were consistently perceived as heroes, villains and victims.
 
The history of nuclear power generation in Japan is analyzed with respect to how the organizational structure of the "nuclear villages," composed of government, private companies and the academic world, negotiated with the growing technology before the Fukushima accident took place. Although nuclear specialists were aware of the potential for a disaster, that did not prevent the enthusiasm for nuclear. The majority of people trusted that new technology would make life easier. The organizational structure of the village consisted of a triangle in which each of the three groups and sub-groups maintained relationships with each other and with the village as a whole to secure its own share of the economic benefits. Based on the sociological theory of norm, we demonstrate that the structure and nature of the relationships in the village facilitated the acceptance of nuclear power despite the element of threat.
 
Temporal variation in the proportion of natural settings in outdoor scenes in animated Disney (including Pixar) films.  
Characterization of the categories of settings.
Temporal variation of the animal species richness in animated Disney (including Pixar) films' settings.  
The assumed ongoing disconnection between humans and nature in Western societies represents a profoundly challenging conservation issue. Here, we demonstrate one manifestation of this nature disconnection, via an examination of the representation of natural settings in a 70-year time series of Disney animated films. We found that natural settings are increasingly less present as a representation of outdoor environments in these films. Moreover, these drawn natural settings tend to be more and more human controlled and are less and less complex in terms of the biodiversity they depict. These results demonstrate the increasing nature disconnection of the filmmaking teams, which we consider as a proxy of the Western relation to nature. Additionally, because nature experience of children is partly based on movies, the depleted representation of biodiversity in outdoor environments of Disney films may amplify the current disconnection from nature for children. This reduction in exposure to nature may hinder the implementation of biodiversity conservation measures.
 
Increasingly, individuals are in charge of their own financial security and are confronted with ever more complex financial instruments. However, there is evidence that many individuals are not well-equipped to make sound saving decisions. This article looks at financial literacy, which is defined as the ability to process economic information and make informed decisions about financial planning, wealth accumulation, debt, and pensions. Failure to plan for retirement, lack of participation in the stock market, and poor borrowing behavior can all be linked to ignorance of basic financial concepts. Financial literacy impacts financial decision making, with implications that apply to individuals, communities, countries, and society as a whole. Given the lack of financial literacy among the population, it may be important to remedy it by adding financial literacy to the school curriculum. © The Author(s) 2015.
 
The existence of diverging discourses in the media and academia on the use of prescription medications to improve cognition in healthy individuals, i.e. "cognitive enhancement" (CE) creates the need to better understand perspectives from stakeholders. This qualitative focus-group study examined perspectives from students, parents and healthcare providers on CE. Stakeholders expressed ambivalence regarding CE (i.e. reactions to, definitions of, risks, and benefits). They were reluctant to adopt analogies to performance-enhancing steroids and caffeine though these analogies were useful in discussing concepts common to the use of different performance-enhancing substances. Media coverage of CE was criticized for lack of scientific rigor, ethical clarity, and inadvertent promotion of CE. Ambivalence of stakeholders suggests fundamental discomfort with economic and social driving forces of CE. Forms of public dialogue that voice the unease and ambivalence of stakeholders should be pursued to avoid opting hastily for permissive or restrictive health policies for CE.
 
Healthy eating is a prominent concern amongst public health and diet professionals. Public understanding of healthy eating presents a topic of interest in understanding scientific credibility in the public domain. Three prominent Dutch nutrition scientists, Kok, Seidell and Katan, have produced popular science books on healthy eating, aiming to remove myths about food and nutrition from the public domain. I describe how they do so, and which strategies they have chosen to achieve this goal. In their books, they move beyond traditional academic strategies to build credibility and devise credibilising strategies resembling those of diet authors. While doing so, they move beyond the deficit model, but end up competing for dietary credibility on the diet authors' terms.
 
Regression models predicting general public trust in science, N =810
Relative frequencies for attitudes about global warming and stem cells
Ordinal logit models predicting attitudes about global warming and stem cells
Using the National Science Foundation's 2006 Science Indicators Survey, this study explores three distinct explanations of public attitudes. First, the knowledge-attitudes model refers to a well tested relationship between public knowledge of science and more favorable attitudes toward science. Second, the alienation model hypothesizes that public disassociation with science is a symptom of a general disenchantment with late modernity, mainly, the limitations associated with codified expertise, rational bureaucracy, and institutional authority. A third approach emphasizes the cultural meaning of science: how various public beliefs about "what science is" relate to acceptance or reservations about science. The Science Indicators Survey shows that US adults view science (what it is or should be) in three distinct ways: (1) in terms of having a systematic method, (2) in terms of social location (i.e., takes place in a university or a laboratory), and (3) in terms of knowledge that should accord with commonsense and tradition. The findings in this study indicate that the knowledge-attitudes, alienation, and cultural meanings models are all valuable for understanding the cultural authority of science. However, the strength of these explanations depends on the type of attitude analyzed.
 
Results of the correspondence analysis of categorized determinants and technologies.
Distribution of articles and frequency of determinants over technologies.
Trends over time (from 1977 to 2008) in number of publications ( N = 292), technologies studied ( N = 10), different determinants investigated ( N = 31) and reference to determinants ( N = 558) in the sample. 
Regional distribution of articles and determinants on public acceptance.
Coverage of determinants over the years (each grey box refers to multiple occurrences of determinants in each year). 
Historically, many technologies have been associated with societal controversies, leading to public rejection of their use. It is therefore important to understand the psychological determinants of societal acceptance of emerging technologies. Socio-psychological determinants of public acceptance of 10 (controversial) technologies are reviewed. The results indicate that there has been an increased interest in and focus on public acceptance of technologies in academia. Risk, trust, perceived benefit, knowledge, individual differences and attitude were found to have been a focus of research in 60% of articles. The results of correspondence analysis suggest that some determinants have been used more extensively in association with some technologies compared to others. As the published research has predominantly been conducted in North America and Europe, research across different cultural contexts internationally is required if globally relevant conclusions are to be reached. Implications for future research are discussed.
 
Prepublication version available at http://www.davidjhess.net. Wireless smart meters (WSMs) promise numerous environmental benefits, but they have been installed without full consideration of public acceptance issues. Although societal-implications research and regulatory policy have focused on privacy, security, and accuracy issues, our research indicates that health concerns have played an important role in the public policy debates that have emerged in California. Regulatory bodies do not recognize non-thermal health effects for non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, but both homeowners and counter-experts have contested the official assurances that WSMs pose no health risks. Similarities and differences with the existing social science literature on mobile phone masts are discussed, as are the broader political implications of framing an alternative policy based on an opt-out choice. The research suggests conditions under which health-oriented precautionary politics can be particularly effective, namely, if there is a mandatory technology, a network of counter-experts, and a broader context of democratic contestation.
 
When reporting health risks, the news media are often criticized for omitting "mobilizing" information that allows readers to act on existing attitudes. Using American and British newspaper coverage of the autism-vaccine controversy as a case study, this article takes a "behind the scenes" look at normative pressures that may influence whether such information appears in coverage. In particular, can holding health officials accountable for their actions potentially "crowd out" mobilizing information? A content analysis suggests that mobilizing information (at least one of four examples) was present in only 16% of articles, compared to 38% that mentioned accountability messages (at least one of two examples). US newspapers were significantly more likely to mention at least one mobilization example. Finally, although only 11% discussed both, articles were more likely to discuss certain mobilizing and accountability examples together. Implications for journalism ethics and vaccine risk communication are discussed.
 
Scientific literacy can also be described as a level of public understanding of science that encourages one to act in concert with scientific consensus. Investigating actions concerned with environmental conservation, we examine the context specificity of this form of scientifically literate action and the differential motivations that predict such action across contexts. We report on a large sample of employees of a mixed urban/rural county in the USA, representing a diverse range of careers, who completed an anonymous survey about their environmental conservation actions at home, at work and in the public sphere. Results indicate that individuals engage at different action levels overall and for different reasons across contexts; limited support was found for the importance of perceived knowledge attainment ability in predicting scientifically informed actions. Implications for policy and program designers and scholars interested in scientific literacy are discussed.
 
This longitudinal retrospective case study describes the sponsors, ad types, frames and message factors in green advertising over three decades in National Geographic magazine, the bellwether nature publication in the USA. In addition to providing a clearer picture of the extent and nature of environmental strategic messaging over three decades, results provide empirical support for theoretical relationships between the level of green advertising and economic indicators. After providing historical and theoretical context, detailed results are presented for both overall and longitudinal analysis. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
 
The goal of this article is to map out public perceptions of animal experimentation in 28 European countries. Postulating cross-cultural differences, this study mixes country-level variables (from the Eurostat database) and individual-level variables (from Eurobarometer Science and Technology 2010). It is shown that experimentation on animals such as mice is generally accepted in European countries, but perceptions are divided on dogs and monkeys. Between 2005 and 2010, we observe globally a change of approval on dogs and monkeys, with a significant decrease in nine countries. Multilevel analysis results show differences at country level (related to a post-industrialism model) and at individual level (related to gender, age, education, proximity and perceptions of science and the environment). These results may have consequences for public perceptions of science and we call for more cross-cultural research on press coverage of animal research and on the level of public engagement of scientists doing animal research.
 
Bi-plot from correspondence analysis of participation classes by country 
Conditional and prior probabilities for a joint cross-national model of participation Response probabilities for categories of items, conditional on class 
Fit statistics for joint cross-national models of participation 
Republican ideals of active scientific citizenship and extensive use of deliberative, democratic decision making have come to dominate the public participation agenda, and academic analyses have focused on the deficit of public involvement vis-à-vis these normative ideals. In this paper we use latent class models to explore what Eurobarometer survey data can tell us about the ways in which people participate in tacit or in policy-active ways with developments in science and technology, but instead of focusing on the distance between observed participation and the dominant, normative ideal of participation, we examine the distance between what people do, and what they themselves think is appropriate in terms of involvement. The typology of citizens emerging from the analyses entails an entirely different diagnosis of democratic deficit, one that stresses imbalance between performed and preferred participation.
 
The success of personalised medicine depends upon the public's embracing genetic tests. Tests that claim to predict an individual's future health can now be accessed via online companies outside of conventional health regulations. This research assessed the extent to which the public embrace direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests relative to those obtained by a conventional medical practitioner (MP). It also examined the reasons for differences across providers using a randomised experimental telephone survey of 1000 Australians. Results suggest that people were significantly less likely to approve of, and order a DTC genetic test administered by a company compared to a MP because they were less trusting of companies' being able to protect their privacy and provide them with access to genetic expertise and counselling. Markets for DTC genetic tests provided by companies would therefore significantly increase if trust in privacy protection and access to expertise are enhanced through regulation.
 
Image from prompt 5: E. coli in a Petri dish. Artist Amy Chase Gulden and scientist Kristen Baldwin use E. coli bacteria to produce live, growing paints. Source: Gulden and Baldwin (2007), reproduced with permission. 
Several incarnations of Trish and James’ hourglass, drawn during their first meeting. 
Incarnations of Maren and Itai’s circle. 
This paper explores collaboration between artists and scientists through participant observation. Four artist/scientist pairs worked together to create ten-minute performances for a festival held in January, 2009 in Ithaca, New York. Each pair created their piece over the course of three two-hour meetings, the first of which employed a cultural probe to open a discourse between the artist and scientist and to facilitate collaboration. My role as a participant observer allowed me to closely observe collaborative processes in which pairs engaged in boundary work and made use of boundary objects. The boundary work helped the pairs establish authority and autonomy within their respective sub-fields, while at the same time provoking discussions that led to the creation of their projects. The pairs used three types of boundary objects: existing, created, and appropriated. These established a common language by which they could create and present their performances to an audience.
 
While ideology can have a strong effect on citizen understanding of science, it is unclear how ideology interacts with other complicating factors, such as college education, which influence citizens' comprehension of information. We focus on public understanding of climate change science and test the hypotheses: [H1] as citizens' ideology shifts from liberal to conservative, concern for global warming decreases; [H2] citizens with college education and higher general science literacy tend to have higher concern for global warming; and [H3] college education does not increase global warming concern for conservative ideologues. We implemented a survey instrument in California's San Francisco Bay Area, and employed regression models to test the effects of ideology and other socio-demographic variables on citizen concern about global warming, terrorism, the economy, health care and poverty. We are able to confirm H1 and H3, but reject H2. Various strategies are discussed to improve the communication of climate change science across ideological divides.
 
National regulations for new science and engineering projects are often drawn up on foundations that refer to the current `state of the art'. However, this approach suffers from the fundamental problem, among others, that science progresses quickly, and models for the development of science have only limited predictive ability. Assessing the risk associated with a project therefore becomes a complex problem; and so non-scientific criteria can not be excluded from the decision-making process. An example of such non-technical criteria can be found in Austrian regulations on genetic engineering where: `products containing or consisting of genetically engineered organisms must not create any “Soziale Unverträglichkeit” [social unsustainability], no `unbalanced burden on society or social groups' that is unacceptable for economic, social or moral reasons.' The aim of this paper is to investigate the implications of this provision. The paper begins with a discussion of the fundamental issues of regulating genetic engineering at a national level, then examines the evolution of the Austrian Genetic Engineering Act, and critically assesses the term `Sozialverträglichkeit'. Having examined various mechanisms whereby non-scientific criteria can be included in the decision-making process, the paper argues that Sozialverträglichkeit can be interpreted as a constructive answer to the problems of a risk society.
 
Climate Change Action Model (CAM). The figure shows the estimates of standardized regression weights (single-headed arrows) and correlations (double-headed arrows) between each factor. Only statistically significant paths are presented. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001.  
Basic statistical parameters of the main variables (means, standard deviations, and correlation coefficients). 
Measures that indicate how well the models assessed in the study fit the data. 
Climate Change Action Path Model (CAMP). The figure shows the estimates of standardized regression weights (single-headed arrows) and correlations (double-headed arrows) between each factor. Only statistically significant paths are presented. ** p < .01; *** p < .001.  
We studied environmental action and its predictors in a multi-scalar context of climate change politics. We asked how belief in climate change, post-materialist values, trust and knowledge predict people's engagement in environmental action by testing two alternative structural equation models (SEM). In one of these models all these factors directly predicted climate-friendly action, and in the other the effect of political trust, post-materialist values and climate change knowledge on climate-friendly action was mediated by belief in climate change. The models were tested with Eurobarometer 69.2 survey data of adult people living in Finland (N = 1,004). The SEM revealed that belief in climate change mediates the effect of post-material values, trust and knowledge on climate-friendly action. It is therefore important to recognize the role of belief in the public understanding of large-scale environmental problems. These results help political authorities to develop policies to encourage people's engagement in climate-friendly action.
 
Theories that can be used to understand and change the conditions for health in settings where traditional Indigenous cultures are undergoing assimilation due to economic development. 
This paper addresses the merits of public health activism that advocates for social change in which health is the outcome of interest. We acknowledge that while efforts at the individual level are important, social network models consider the underlying mechanisms that lie outside the public health sector. This paper considers the inequitable health of Indigenous people who bear a disproportionate share of the negative health consequences due to economic development programs that follow an assimilation model. This paper discusses a combination of theoretical constructs to understand and solve the problems at hand. It concludes that while the attention paid to technological and behavioral solutions at the individual level yields important health outcomes, attention should also be paid to structural causes that address social, political and economic barriers to prevent disease, disability and premature death.
 
MST (Movimento Sem Terra/Landless People's Movement) is the largest rural movement of Latin America. Since the late 1990s, it has taken part in the diffusion of expertise about biodiversity conservation. Using an ethnographic approach, this paper investigates sources and roles of trust within this process. How does trust work when experts and laypeople belong to the same movement? The paper uses and critically discusses the works of Brian Wynne and the Actor Network Theory. It describes the particular ways in which the building of trust takes place within the intimate networks of MST. As ecological expertise becomes a central element within MST's project of liberation, the sources of trust are both affective and effective. Interests, social recognition and identity are intertwined. In the conclusion, I propose the concept of activist trust.
 
This article discusses how residents in a local area contributed to the construction of knowledge in regard to scientific assessments in relation to a fire in a storage dump of burnable waste. Building on analytical concepts primarily from Social Worlds theory as well as some concepts from Actor-Network Theory, the analysis shows how dissent and a number of scientific controversies were initiated by some residents living nearby the waste dump who proved to be excellent network builders and who built a number of alliances with media and independent scientists, thus questioning the authorities' and their experts' legitimacy. Furthermore, the situated analysis identifies how a few persons-not very organized-were able to create a debate about scientific matters using their combined resources and strong alliance-building abilities, thus proving that in some cases there is no need for a higher level of organization.
 
The theoretical model of engagement and science competency. 
Correlation matrix, means, and standard deviations of the variables (N = 8374).
The tested model of engagement and science competency with the standardized coefficients in 15-year-old students. 
The tested model of engagement and biology competency. 
This study investigated how affective factors impact participation in science learning using structural equation modeling. Using a dataset from Taiwan, a model was obtained that showed the relationships among science-related interest, enjoyment, self-efficacy, self-concept, competency, leisure time engagement, and future interest in science. The paths relating to engagement and future interest were much stronger for interest and enjoyment than for self-efficacy and self-concept. There was no significant path between science competency and future science interest or engagement. The results suggest that the affective and cognitive pathways to scientific competency are divergent and that they might be differentially activated by different contexts and activities. This indicates that school science educators might wish to reconsider the merit of overemphasizing achievement in comparison to interest. Finally, the results suggest that the development of science competency per se may not be the best way to ensure public engagement and understanding of science.
 
Scientists play an important role in framing public engagement with science. Their language can facilitate or impede particular interactions taking place with particular citizens: scientists' "speech acts" can "perform" different types of "scientific citizenship". This paper examines how scientists in Australia talked about therapeutic cloning during interviews and during the 2006 parliamentary debates on stem cell research. Some avoided complex labels, thereby facilitating public examination of this field. Others drew on language that only opens a space for publics to become educated, not to participate in a more meaningful way. Importantly, public utterances made by scientists here contrast with common international utterances: they did not focus on the therapeutic but the research promises of therapeutic cloning. Social scientists need to pay attention to the performative aspects of language in order to promote genuine citizen involvement in techno-science. Speech Act Theory is a useful analytical tool for this.
 
How are secondary accounts of "bad" scientific practice constructed? How do they engage with the primary data produced by "bad" scientists? And what happens to those primary data as generations of secondary accounts purporting to describe them accumulate? This paper addresses such questions via a case study of Dr. Hong, a microbiologist accused of "bad" scientific practice by numerous secondary accounts of the 2003 SARS outbreak. Bringing Hong's own account of his own actions into dialogue with one of the most influential secondary accounts of his actions, the paper highlights the gross disparity between the two. Having argued that the rhetorical structuring of the secondary account is, ultimately, responsible for Hong's characterisation as a "bad" scientist, it then moves to explore how subsequent accounts developed their own characterisations. What becomes clear is that as secondary accounts began feeding off one another, references to Hong's account disappeared. Aided by the concepts of the "vanishing" and the "phantasm", the paper concludes with a consideration of how this process left Hong's work with a very peculiar form of existence.
 
The appearance of being scientific can increase persuasiveness. Even trivial cues can create such an appearance of a scientific basis. In our studies, including simple elements, such as graphs (Studies 1-2) or a chemical formula (Study 3), increased belief in a medication's efficacy. This appears to be due to the association of such elements with science, rather than increased comprehensibility, use of visuals, or recall. Belief in science moderates the persuasive effect of graphs, such that people who have a greater belief in science are more affected by the presence of graphs (Study 2). Overall, the studies contribute to past research by demonstrating that even trivial elements can increase public persuasion despite their not truly indicating scientific expertise or objective support.
 
Top-cited authors
Jody W. Enck
  • Cornell University
Tina Phillips
  • Cornell University
Rick Bonney
  • Cornell University
Heidi L. Ballard
  • University of California, Davis
Emily Dawson
  • Leeds Beckett University