Article

Understanding "understanding" in Public Understanding of Science

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Abstract

This study examines the conflation of terms such as “knowledge” and “understanding” in peer-reviewed literature, and tests the hypothesis that little current research clearly distinguishes between importantly distinct epistemic states. Two sets of data are presented from papers published in the journal Public Understanding of Science. In the first set, the digital text analysis tool, Voyant, is used to analyze all papers published in 2014 for the use of epistemic success terms. In the second set of data, all papers published in Public Understanding of Science from 2010–2015 are systematically analyzed to identify instances in which epistemic states are empirically measured. The results indicate that epistemic success terms are inconsistently defined, and that measurement of understanding, in particular, is rarely achieved in public understanding of science studies. We suggest that more diligent attention to measuring understanding, as opposed to mere knowledge, will increase efficacy of scientific outreach and communication efforts.

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... However, at least in adults, the most vehement science-deniers tend to be highly educated [12][13][14] . Indeed, the notion that those who don't accept the scientific understanding are those who struggle to understand the science has been described as one of the 'myths' 15 of public understanding of science. However, Pew Research, for example, report that as regards the question of whether humans are the product of evolution, an increasing proportion of individuals agree with the scientific view as science education attainment levels increase 16 . ...
... Does aptitude or psychological conflict therefore best predict student responses to teaching of contentious subjects? We address this issue in the specific context of the teaching of evolution to a UK-based cohort (number of students = 1,227, number of classes = 70) of secondary school children (aged [14][15][16]. The schools were derived from both the state and private systems, and comprised of a large breadth of social, religious and economic demographics 19 . ...
... Quantitative data were collected through a student questionnaire to determine acceptance of evolution and understanding of genetics and evolution. This was devised for GCSE-level students (14)(15)(16) year olds) who study evolution and genetics as part of their science GCSE science course. An advantage of analysis of this age group is that order effects may well be most easily detected if there has been little or no priming. ...
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It is considered a myth that non-acceptance of scientific consensus on emotive topics is owing to difficulties processing scientific information and is, instead, owing to belief-associated psychological conflicts, the strongest non-acceptors being highly educated. It has been unclear whether these results from adults explain variation in response to school-level teaching. We studied a cohort of UK secondary school students (aged 14-16) and assessed their acceptance and understanding of evolution. In addition, to address their aptitude for science we assessed their understanding of genetics and their teacher-derived assessment of science aptitude. As both models predict, students with low initial evolution acceptance scores showed lower increases in the understanding of evolution. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this effect is better explained by lack of aptitude: before teaching, students with low acceptance had lower understanding of both evolution and of genetics; the low-acceptance students sat disproportionately in the foundation (rather than higher) science classes; low-acceptance students showed lower increments in the understanding of genetics; and student gain in the understanding of evolution correlated positively with gain in the understanding of genetics. We find no evidence either for a role for psychological conflict in determining response to teaching or that strong rejectors are more commonly of a higher ability. From qualitative data we hypothesize that religious students can avoid psychological conflict by adopting a compatibilist attitude. We conclude that there are students recalcitrant to the teaching of science (as currently taught) and that these students are more likely to not accept the scientific consensus. Optimizing methods to teach recalcitrant students is an important avenue for research.
... Indeed, some have argued that previous attempts to provide coherent and comprehensive accounts of understanding are part of the problem. Rather than furthering our understanding, the resulting definitions, have contributed to the current limited appreciation of understanding in teaching, learning and assessment (White and Gunstone 1992), as evidenced by the lack of clarity found in much education curricular documentation where the terms 'knowledge' and 'understanding' are frequently employed loosely, ambiguously and interchangeably (Huxster et al 2018;Smith and Siegel 2004). ...
... The view of understanding apparent in this metaphor is that understanding is an intellectually demanding epistemic state (Huxster 2018;Janvid 2018); a conscious and deliberate endeavour that goes beyond knowing (Strevens 2013) and involves making connections between pieces of information and inferring correct descriptions. To understanding something is to know what it is and to make reasonable sense of it (Baker cited in Grimm 2011). ...
Article
Despite its centrality to most, if not all educational endeavours, what is meant by understanding is highly contested. Using Religious Education (RE) in England as a case subject this paper examines pre-service secondary school teachers’ construals of understanding. It does so by employing conceptual metaphor theory to analyse their linguistic discourse. Specifically, it examines the metaphors employed by participants in a series of focus group discussions (FGD) and provides important insights into how understanding is conceptualised by these pre-service teachers who are preparing to enter the RE profession. The metaphors employed by these pre-service teachers (‘understanding is SEEING’; ‘understanding is CONSTRUCTING’; ‘understanding is GRASPING’), focus on the dynamic and developmental nature of understanding (rather than on the outcomes) and reveal subject specific ways of thinking and practicing. This paper argues that each of the three conceptual metaphors employed by participants suggest particular ways of acting towards understanding with significant implications for teaching and learning in RE. The version available here is the pre-published version. An e-print of the published version is available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/TXRBSPHEBRMRMVWIPGWI/full?target=10.1080/01416200.2019.1708703
... This is partly because most scientists lack training in effective science communication (Brownell et al., 2013;Simis et al., 2016) and often see it as a oneway transfer of information ) not a dialogue. The problem is exacerbated by myths (Burke, 2015) and misunderstandings (Varner, 2014;Simis et al., 2016) among scientists about public understanding of science, such as the knowledge deficit model of science communication. This alluring model assumes that people are skeptical about scientific issues (i.e., vaccines, climate change, GMOs) because they lack knowledge or understanding, and that providing them with knowledge will change their thinking, or simply put "To know science is to love science" (Turney, 1998). ...
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In this Research Topic we are interested in the impact of online video-sharing on the public communication of science and the environment, but also on intra-scientific communication and practice. The online video format has great potential for science and environmental communication, but there are also potential problems and pitfalls that need to be reflected. We are interested in the role of online video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube, Vimeo and others, for the public communication of science and research. Production We are looking for various perspectives on the production of online videos, i.e. who creates and uploads videos with scientific and environmental contents and what are the intentions and purposes of these videos? What are the differences and similarities between professional, amateur, institutional and other actors who produce online videos? How do the different creators of videos about science and the environment legitimize themselves and what audiences do they want to reach and for what reasons? What are the differences in practices and intentions of journalists, YouTubers, scientists, scientific institutions and others when it comes to online video-sharing? Content Which scientific and environmental topics and what kinds of research and knowledge are represented in publicly available online videos and which are not? Are there certain scientific disciplines that use online videos for public and/ or intra-scientific communication more often than others? What kind of video formats, genres, videographic styles etc. are most successful, widespread and adequate for science and environmental communication? How can the quality of scientific online videos be assessed? What role do misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories play in online videos about scientific and environmental topics and what could be done to successfully counteract erroneous and problematic video content? Can differences concerning topics, frames or aesthetic aspects be found and analyzed, and if so how? What are the differences between the online videos of professional, amateur, institutional and other user/ producer cultures? Are there differences in the online videos from diverse geographical locations, languages and disciplinary communities? Audiences, reception and communities How are online videos on science and the environment perceived by various audiences? Do scientists and researchers also make use of the online-video format, and if so, how and why? How do different audiences make sense of the online videos they are watching and how do they affect perceptions, knowledge and attitudes? How do different users seek and find online videos about science and the environment and how do they assess the credibility of the videos? What communities emerge around specific video channels featuring science and environmental online videos and how do various audiences/ communities and video creators interact? What is the role of specific online video-sharing platforms for the dissemination, recommendation and practices of environmental and science communication via online video? Methodological innovations What quantitative, qualitative, computational and other methods could be used to study scientific and environmental online-videos and practices of online video-sharing? Practical perspectives We are also interested in perspectives of online video practitioners or researchers and others who experimented with online videos for science and environmental communication. We also welcome case studies and the experiences of science YouTubers and experience reports of exchanges with scientists, scientific institutions, journalists, filmmakers and others who use online videos for environmental and science communication. Keywords: Science Communication, Environmental Communication, Online Video, Video Platforms, YouTube, Vimeo, Public Understanding of Science, Science of Science Communication, Social Sciences, Media, Communications, Interdisciplinarity See also: https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/11604/new-directions-in-science-and-environmental-communication-understanding-the-role-of-online-video-sha
... En el debate académico sobre la relación entre ciencia y sociedad se pueden distinguir tres etapas marcadas por el papel jugado por los protagonistas de este binomio, esto es, la ciencia y la sociedad (Alix et al., 2008; Olvera-Lobo y López-Pérez, 2014b; López-Pérez y Olvera-Lobo, 2015b): i) alfabetización científica y comprensión pública de la ciencia (Whitey, 1959, Shen, 1975Thomas y Kindo, 1978;Miller, 1983;Koelsche, 1965;Bodmer, 1985), ii) diálogo o comunicación pública de la ciencia (Royal Society, 2000;Michael, 2002;Pardo y Calvo, 2002;Dierkens y Von Grote, 2003;Hanssen et al., 2003;Winter, 2004;Davies, 2011y Stilgoe, Lock y Wilsdom, 2014 y iii) participación pública en la ciencia (Rowe y Frewer, 2005;Hagendijk e Irwin, 2006;Alix et al., 2008;Bonney et al., 2009;National Co-ordinating Centre for Public's Engagement, 2010;Árnason, 2012;Irwin, Jensen y Jones, 2012;Stilgoe, Lock y Wilsdom, 2014;Rarn, Mejlgaard y Rask, 2014;Klüver et al., 2014;Rask et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Resumen: La relación entre ciencia y sociedad ha cambiado radicalmente en los últimos 30 años desde el denominado modelo de déficit cognitivo (centrado en la falta de cultura científica de los ciudadanos) hasta la participación del público en la ciencia. Una transformación impulsada por la irrupción de Internet que, no sólo ha favorecido un papel más activo de la sociedad en el desarrollo científico, sino que también ha generado un nuevo escenario de estudio centrado en el análisis de la democratización del proceso científico al amparo del universo digital y su impacto social y cultural. Aunque aún es incipiente, ya existe una corriente académica que ha puesto el foco de atención en este nuevo campo de investigación humanística. Estos autores apuntan, entre sus conclusiones, que el acceso abierto y la participación pública que posibilitan las herramientas de la Web 2.0 apoyan la socialización del proceso científico y contribuyen al desarrollo de una investigación e innovación responsable. En el presente trabajo se reivindica la importancia de desarrollar un marco teórico desde las ciencias sociales y humanidades digitales que permita analizar tanto el papel de Internet en el impulso de la RRI, como la calidad, efectividad y características de las interacciones digitales entre ciencia y sociedad. Palabras clave: Comunicación pública de la ciencia, Web 2.0, participación del publico en la ciencia, investigación e innovación responsable, Internet Abstract: The relation between science and society has radically changed in the last 30 years from the deficit model-in which the general public is defined negatively due to its lack of knowledge-to the participative model. A transformation encouraged by the Internet irruption, which not only has improved a better role of society in scientific development but also it has created a new research field focused on the analysis of democratization of scientific process and its social and cultural impact. However, this research area is yet emerging, it just exists a strong academic framework aiming attention at this new field of humanistic research. These scholars indicate, among their conclusions, that open access and public engagement in science enhanced by web 2.0 tools promote the socialization of the scientific process and contribute to the consolidation of responsible research and innovation. The present article claims for the importance to develop a new framework from social sciences and digital humanities to study the Internet impact on the implementation of RRI and to analyze the quality, the effectivity and the characteristics of the digital connections between science and society.
... Hagedorn and Allender-Hagedorn (1995) concluded that the public has expressed a strong perception of being omitted from the process even though this same public has been the focus of many different biotechnology educational initiatives that call for including the public as a legitimate partner (Kemp, 1992), using the media to develop public awareness (McCabe and Fitzgerald 1991), instituting nationwide public school programs (Miller, 1992), and developing a special infrastructure to meet legitimate public concerns (Lacy et al., 1991). These initiatives have shown varying degrees of success and/or acceptance (Hopkin, 1993). ...
... There are various levels and expressions of scientific literacy. For example, Shen (1975), Pella (1976), Scribner (1986) and Shamos, (1995) all suggested similar levels. The lowest level is often called practical or functional literacy and refers to the ability of a person to function normally in their daily life, as a consumer of scientific and technological products. ...
Article
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This study investigated the attainment of chemical literacy among 10th-12th grade chemistry students in Israel. Based on existing theoretical frameworks, assessment tools were developed, which measured students' ability to: a) recognize chemical concepts as such (nominal literacy); b) define some key-concepts (functional literacy); c) use their understanding of chemical concepts to explain phenomena (conceptual literacy); and d) use their knowledge in chemistry to read a short article, or analyze information provided in commercial ads or internet resources (multi-dimensional literacy). It was found that students improve their nominal and functional literacy; however, higher levels of chemical literacy, as defined within these frameworks, are only partly met. The findings can be helpful in the process of designing new curricula, and emphasizing certain instructional strategies in order to foster chemical literacy. (Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2006, 7 (4), 203-225)
... Hagedorn and Allender-Hagedorn (1995) concluded the public has expressed a strong perception of being omitted from the process even though this same public has been the focus of many different biotechnology educational initiatives that call for including the public as a legitimate partner (Kemp 1992), using the media to develop public awareness (McCabe and Fitzgerald 1991), instituting nationwide public school programs (Miller 1992), and developing a special infrastructure to meet legitimate public concerns (Lacy et al. 1991). These initiatives have shown varying degrees of success and/or acceptance (Hopkin 1993). ...
... Following Anastas and Warner, 1 in 2011 Winterton published a book 4 in which green chemistry was put into wider historical and societal context. Similarly, Iles recently provided arguments 5 for which stagnation of green chemistry in the United States (most chemists not practicing green chemistry principles; most chemical companies still having not incorporated green chemistry into their products; lawmakers having been largely oblivious; and even environmental organizations only beginning to become aware of green chemistry) has been due to the absence of societal input and public scrutiny of chemistry choices. Chemists advocating green chemistry, furthermore, have generally paid scarce attention to the limits imposed on synthetic processes by thermodynamics. ...
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Biocatalysis is the main green chemistry technology adopted by the fine chemicals and pharmaceutical industries to manufacture chemicals with higher yield. Heterogeneously catalyzed processes using supported metal or molecular catalysts are still an exception. Reviewing the actual development of green chemistry in these important segments of the chemical enterprise, we investigate the reasons behind such a delay in innovation. Finally, we consider whether green metrics developed by chemists is actually purposeful to management, and find that this concept needs to be streamlined to include simple financial metrics quantifying the impact of prevention on the company’s bottom line.
... The endeavour of PER had been early and aptly summarized by Aarons (1972): ...
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Mathematics and Physics are certainly among the most closely related academic fields. In terms of Education Research the Physics branch has undergone an impressive development during the past decades and has proven to be remarkably advanced and successful. This contribution gives a concise overview of the important aspects of Physics Education Research and analyses the reasons for its success. Based on this it will be investigated if and to what extent Physics Education Research can serve as a paradigm for Mathematics Education Research.
... Gone are the days in which the practice of green chemistry in the chemical industry was stagnant. [12] Drawing on two decades of successful research and educational efforts, including 12 international conferences held in Sicily since 2009, in the following we discuss the outcomes of an analysis aimed at evaluating the opportunity for Italy's Research Council to establish a new bioeconomy and solar energy institute. Conceived from a broadened perspective in which social, economic, governance and innovation issues are dealt with scientific and technology aspects, the study has a general interest, which goes beyond Italy and Europe, as the urgency of a transition which is global in nature, and the challenges involved in different countries in such transformative process, are similar. ...
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Driven by insight for which new research and education requires new institutional organisation, and drawing on two decades of research and educational efforts, we devise the profile and activities of a new bioeconomy and solar energy institute at Italy's Research Council. We further articulate the institute's activities suggesting avenues on how to deploy sound and giving more useful research, education and policy advice in these crucial fields for making tomorrow's common development sustainable. The outcomes of the study are of general interest, because the transition to a solar economy is of intrinsic global nature and the challenges involved are similar in many countries.
... En el debate académico sobre la relación entre ciencia y sociedad se pueden distinguir tres etapas marcadas por el papel jugado por los protagonistas de este binomio, esto es, la ciencia y la sociedad (Alix et al., 2008;Olvera-Lobo y López-Pérez, 2014b; López-Pérez y Olvera-Lobo, 2015b): i) alfabetización científica y comprensión pública de la ciencia (Whitey, 1959, Shen, 1975Thomas y Kindo, 1978;Miller, 1983;Koelsche, 1965;Bodmer, 1985), ii) diálogo o comunicación pública de la ciencia (Royal Society, 2000;Michael, 2002;Pardo y Calvo, 2002;Dierkens y Von Grote, 2003;Hanssen et al., 2003;Winter, 2004;Davies, 2011y Stilgoe, Lock y Wilsdom, 2014 y iii) participación pública en la ciencia (Rowe y Frewer, 2005;Hagendijk e Irwin, 2006;Alix et al., 2008;Bonney et al., 2009;National Co-ordinating Centre for Public's Engagement, 2010;Árnason, 2012;Irwin, Jensen y Jones, 2012;Stilgoe, Lock y Wilsdom, 2014;Rarn, Mejlgaard y Rask, 2014;Klüver et al., 2014;Rask et al., 2016). ...
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1. Introducción La ciencia definida como "elitista" por autores como Brown (2016) ha ganado una nueva humildad gracias a los diferentes canales de comunicación que posibilita la Web tales como las redes sociales, las wikis o los blogs (Brown, 2016). Ciertamente, las tecnologías digitales han transformado la esfera pública, la cual ya no consiste en un espacio físico al que acude el público sino que se trata más bien de múltiples espacios virtuales que promueven la conversación y la participación de todos los agentes implicados en la investigación (Grand et al, 2016). En este sentido, Internet ha favorecido el papel activo de los ciudadanos, quienes a través de este canal aprenden, evalúan, comparten, participan y deciden sobre el proceso de investigación científica (Brossard, 2013). De esta manera, el uso de los medios digitales en el proceso científico crea nuevos ecosistemas de investigación y cambia las prácticas de partici-pación (Grand et al., 2016; Weilgod y Treise, 2004). Desde el punto de vista sociológico, puede decirse que la Web 2.0 ha promovido una sociedad más informada y con más conciencia sobre el conocimiento científico.
... En primer lugar, la crítica a la hipótesis que subyace a estos planteamientos, es decir, que hay un déficit en la población (que no es capaz de entender correctamente lo que significa la ciencia). Como han señalado Ziman (1991), Wynne (1991) o Irving y Wynne (1996) (en Miller, 1998, el significado científico se negocia socialmente y, por tanto, no debe darse por supuesto que el conocimiento de los científicos sea mejor que el de los no científicos. ...
Chapter
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Este capítulo analiza la asociación entre conocimiento, confianza y compromiso con la ciencia. Apoyándose en el análisis de la relación entre estas variables mediante Modelos de Ecuaciones Estructurales, se concluye que una mayor rendición de cuentas por parte de la sociedad no significa que la ciudadanía tenga una percepción negativa de la ciencia y la tecnología o que haya perdido la confianza o, menos aún, que tal exigencia revele la existencia de algún déficit de cultura científica. Según su tesis, estos datos se deben interpretar justo en sentido contrario, es decir, la exigencia de rendición de cuentas es consecuencia de una mayor cultura científica de la población que redunda en un mayor deseo de participar y opinar. Por otro lado, la crítica al modelo del déficit ha hecho relegar a un segundo plano el papel facilitador que desempeña el conocimiento científico en la confianza y el compromiso de la sociedad con la ciencia. La ciencia nos ayuda a entender cómo funciona el mundo. Si queremos fomentar el compromiso de la ciudadanía con ella, debemos ser capaces de trasladarle esta manera de verla y despertar su curiosidad.
... [18] In this top-down model, scientists and researchers often define the problems to be examined and the structure of the project with minimal input from participants [19][20][21]. This approach is not surprising given that many experts still subscribe to the so-called deficit model, which is based on the premise that laypeople without scientific backgrounds or training are ignorant and thus need information provided by experts to overcome their ignorance [22][23][24][25]. ...
Article
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... The deficit model suggests that resistance to information from climate scientists is due to an inability to comprehend the evidence. However, Huxster et al. (2018) warn of the need to distinguish "knowledge" from "understanding". They suggest one understands … a subject (issue, concept, theory, …) only if one grasps how a constellation of facts relevant to that subject are related to one another (causally, inferentially, explanatorily, &c.) in such a way as to be able to make new connections or draw new inferences with novel information. ...
Article
Replicating questions on climate change and polar knowledge from the United States, this study examines the impact of climate related facts for predicting acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, and for predicting Green voting in Australia. Analysis of national survey data from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes show that the likelihood of Green voting increases with climate knowledge. Climate-related knowledge is also positively associated with acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, but the effect of knowledge is moderated by party political identification. Greens, Labor Party identifiers and politically un-affiliated Australians align more closely with the scientific consensus on climate change as their climate knowledge increases. However, climate knowledge has no effect on the climate change attitudes of Liberal and National party identifiers. Climate knowledge also interacts with gender. Climate knowledge has a stronger association with anthropogenic climate change beliefs among women than it does among men. These findings suggest the information deficit model of science communication is likely to be efficacious among supporters of politically progressive parties in Australia, but less so among political conservatives.
... In many cases it is used interchangeably with the term 'science literacy', thus underscoring its importance for informed decision making. While there is no one definition of public understanding of science, it is fair to assume it entails more than simply knowing scientific facts but instead having a holistic view of them (Huxster et al., 2018). For the purpose of this study, we define science literacy as the ability of an individual to access scientific information relevant to one's life, make sense of the information and use it to make informed decisions. ...
Article
Citizen science is transforming the ways scientific knowledge is created, in that citizens participate in active scientific research, and large scientific databases can be accessed online. However, data availability does not guarantee public use or the relevance of these resources. This paper addresses the ways in which non-expert adults involved in a citizen science initiative, perceive, understand and use its scientific information. Participants responded to an online questionnaire presenting air quality data from ‘Sensing the Air’ citizen science platform, followed by interpretation questions (n = 123). The results showed that 70% of participants were able to interpret the data presented in various visual representations. No differences were found between gender, age or education level. However, respondents with tertiary scientific education obtained higher average scores. Among users who had previous experience with the project, overall scores were higher, and differences based on respondents scientific education were fewer. This may suggest that while scientific education is important in providing skills for data interpretation, it is not the only way to acquire these skills. This study highlights the ability of non-experts to understand and apply scientific data in daily situations and the potential of citizen science to develop scientific skills, competencies and public understanding of science.
... Education may be important for mitigating ACC. However, because knowledge only measures one's ability to grasp facts and understanding measures one's ability to determine how facts fit together (Huxster et al. 2018), future studies should assess student's understanding of ACC, and determine whether knowledge, understanding, and attitudes change across their college tenure (Zhao and Ewert 2020). If no change is detected or if knowledge follows attitude, careful framing of messages would be more critical to influencing attitude (Druckman and McGrath 2019). ...
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Despite scientific consensus and educational efforts, approximately 25% of Americans remain unconvinced of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), and significant misconceptions remain. Many studies have assessed adults’ views, but it is important to also understand the perceptions of younger individuals who will deal with the future impacts of ACC. In this study, we aimed to determine first-semester college students’ attitudes toward and knowledge of ACC, which factors are associated with these measures, and whether knowledge scores differ among audience segments. We issued surveys at 19 American universities and received 2355 responses. The surveys contained sections assessing attitudes, knowledge, and demographics. We analyzed the attitudes and knowledge in ordinal and beta regressions. Most (73.6%) of the students were very concerned about ACC, and their average knowledge scores were high (0.89, standard error = 0.003). Attitude and knowledge were associated with a combination of personal and environmental factors. The concerned students had higher scores, suggesting education may be an important mitigation tool.
... The broader implication is that social context is crucial and that this will be missed, or simplified, through a narrow focus on individual risk perception. This argument is located within an 'interpretevist' (Gabe 2004) or 'constructivist' (Wynne 1995) tradition in risk research. ...
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Science communication via testimony requires a certain level of trust. But in the context of ideologically-entangled scientific issues, trust is in short supply—particularly when the issues are politically ‘entangled’. In such cases, cultural values are better predictors than scientific literacy for whether agents trust the publicly-directed claims of the scientific community. In this paper, we argue that a common way of thinking about scientific literacy—as knowledge of particular scientific facts or concepts—ought to give way to a second-order understanding of science as a process as a more important notion for the public’s trust of science.
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Conversations about climate change at the science-policy interface and in our lives have been stuck for some time. This handbook integrates lessons from the social sciences and humanities to more effectively make connections through issues, people, and things that everyday citizens care about. Readers will come away with an enhanced understanding that there is no ‘silver bullet' to communications about climate change; instead, a ‘silver buckshot' approach is needed, where strategies effectively reach different audiences in different contexts. This tactic can then significantly improve efforts that seek meaningful, substantive, and sustained responses to contemporary climate challenges. It can also help to effectively recapture a common or middle ground on climate change in the public arena. Readers will come away with ideas on how to harness creativity to better understand what kinds of communications work where, when, why, and under what conditions in the twenty-first century.
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Public understanding of science (PUS) is an area of research using contributions from various areas of expertise but focusing on the borders between science and society. It is a recent but growing area of research with its own strengths and limitations. The first phase of its development involved attitudinal surveys in many countries to measure the public’s scientific knowledge and probe the public’s attitude towards science and scientists. In many countries, regular survey studies have underpinned the allocation of special budgetary provisions. Later, researchers refined their methodology and developed new analytical tools and techniques to gain deeper insights into PUS. In India, researchers from the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (a unit of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) have worked since 1989 on techniques for surveys suitable for developing countries. As a consequence of that research, the research group has proposed a culturally sensitive model for evaluating the data. This chapter describes the historical background of the development of PUS research, with special reference to that simple but effective ‘cultural distance’ model. The authors confirm that the method of measuring cultural distance can be applied to various datasets to draw meaningful conclusions.
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Em debates polêmicos sobre temas de ciência e tecnologia, é comum se observar a desconsideração de saberes, opiniões e argumentos provenientes do “público leigo”. Em geral, considera-se que este não é capaz de opinar e menos ainda de decidir sobre questões na área. Essa postura hierárquica de domínio do conhecimento resulta, em grande medida, na falta de participação pública em tomadas de decisões relativas a tecnologias que impactam o cotidiano da sociedade, como no caso da introdução dos cultivos transgênicos no Brasil e do processo de consolidação do marco legal que os regulamenta. Durante o período em que autoridades políticas e setores interessados discutiram a questão, as tentativas de se dar voz e de se compreender a opinião dos diferentes atores sociais acerca dos transgênicos foram tímidas. Os pequenos agricultores, diretamente afetados pela nova tecnologia, tiveram envolvimento restrito no debate nacional sobre o tema. O objetivo deste trabalho é dar voz a esses atores e, assim, identificar e compreender melhor os dilemas por eles enfrentados na hora de decidir por plantar ou não cultivos transgênicos. Para isso, realizamos grupos focais com pequenos agricultores e analisamos, com base na teoria semiolinguística de Patrick Charaudeau, o arsenal argumentativo que colocam em prática na hora de falar desses dilemas. Observamos que ponderações e dúvidas, mais do que posições firmes e certezas, marcam o discurso desses atores sobre os transgênicos. Dos questionamentos feitos em relação a esses cultivos, alguns geraram mais controvérsia do que outros, como os supostos benefícios econômicos que proporcionam -- uma das principais questões consideradas pelos produtores. Por outro lado, a preocupação relacionada aos perigos de contaminação das culturas convencionais e à resistência das ervas daninhas ao herbicida usado nos cultivos transgênicos foi quase um consenso entre os agricultores ouvidos, que utilizaram seus saberes empíricos para defender argumentos e persuadir interlocutores.
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The discussion of empowerment and its dynamics through the contemporary communication ecology is at the core of this e-book and is organised around the theme of ‘Communication for Empowerment: Citizens, Markets, and Innovations’. The volume features a wide range of contributions, from political communication, public relations, advertising, internal communication, science communications and corporate social responsibility. The peer reviewed papers presented in this volume share findings and “state of the art” critical reflections, which address the core objective of the Organisational and Strategic Communication (OSC) of ECREA. They also continue the tradition of the promoting scientific knowledge in our broad and diverse field of research, which has been central to OSC Section’s raison d’être since its creation in 2006.
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Science and strategic communication: how can universities attract high school students? Abstract As the use of new media and the new uses of traditional media evolve in the contemporary This is a study on the use of science communication as a component of the promotional mix prepared by universities to attract high school students to their graduate and postgraduate programmes. It proposes the concept of strategic science communication, to name strategic communication practices that use science popularization to reach successful organizational performance. And this proposal was tested through a survey applied to high school students, within the area of influence of the University of Minho, in Portugal. The survey was designed according to a model of analysis developed to study the ability of strategic science communication to act on awareness (familiarity), enjoyment (appreciation), interest (voluntary involvement), opinion (way of thinking), understanding (comprehension), interaction (contact activities) and action (attitude); by extending Burns et al. (2003, p.191) vowel analogy. In the end, results point out: (1 st) to the relevance of strategic communication activities in the process of promoting information and interaction with science; (2 nd) to the positive effect of science communication activities in the desire to apply for a higher education institution; and (3 rd) to the pertinence of the strategic science communication concept in universities' communication mix.
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What exactly is the difference between data and information? What is the difference between data quality and information quality; is there any difference between the two? And, what are knowledge and wisdom? Are there such things as knowledge quality and wisdom quality? As these primitives are the most basic axioms of information systems research, it is somewhat surprising that consensus on exact definitions seems to be lacking. This paper presents a theoretical and empirical exploration of the sometimes directly quoted, and often implied Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy and its quality dimension. We first review relevant literature from a range of perspectives and develop and contextualise a theoretical DIKW framework through semiotics. The literature review identifies definitional commonalities and divergences from a scholarly perspective; the theoretical discussion contextualises the terms and their relationships within a semiotic framework and proposes relevant definitions grounded in that framework. Next, rooted in Wittgenstein’s ordinary language philosophy, we analyse 20 online news articles for their uses of the terms and present the results of an online focus group discussion comprising 16 information systems experts. The empirical exploration identifies a range of definitional ambiguities from a practical perspective.
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Open-ended questions eliciting free-text comments have been widely adopted in surveys of patient experience. Analysis of free text comments can provide deeper or new insight, identify areas for action, and initiate further investigation. Also, they may be a promising way to progress from documentation of patient experience to achieving quality improvement. The usual methods of analyzing free-text comments are known to be time and resource intensive. To efficiently deal with a large amount of free-text, new methods of rapidly summarizing and characterizing the text are being explored. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using freely available Web-based text processing tools (text clouds, distinctive word extraction, key words in context) for extracting useful information from large amounts of free-text commentary about patient experience, as an alternative to more resource intensive analytic methods. We collected free-text responses to a broad, open-ended question on patients' experience of primary care in a cross-sectional postal survey of patients recently consulting doctors in 25 English general practices. We encoded the responses to text files which were then uploaded to three Web-based textual processing tools. The tools we used were two text cloud creators: TagCrowd for unigrams, and Many Eyes for bigrams; and Voyant Tools, a Web-based reading tool that can extract distinctive words and perform Keyword in Context (KWIC) analysis. The association of patients' experience scores with the occurrence of certain words was tested with logistic regression analysis. KWIC analysis was also performed to gain insight into the use of a significant word. In total, 3426 free-text responses were received from 7721 patients (comment rate: 44.4%). The five most frequent words in the patients' comments were "doctor", "appointment", "surgery", "practice", and "time". The three most frequent two-word combinations were "reception staff", "excellent service", and "two weeks". The regression analysis showed that the occurrence of the word "excellent" in the comments was significantly associated with a better patient experience (OR=1.96, 95%CI=1.63-2.34), while "rude" was significantly associated with a worse experience (OR=0.53, 95%CI=0.46-0.60). The KWIC results revealed that 49 of the 78 (63%) occurrences of the word "rude" in the comments were related to receptionists and 17(22%) were related to doctors. Web-based text processing tools can extract useful information from free-text comments and the output may serve as a springboard for further investigation. Text clouds, distinctive words extraction and KWIC analysis show promise in quick evaluation of unstructured patient feedback. The results are easily understandable, but may require further probing such as KWIC analysis to establish the context. Future research should explore whether more sophisticated methods of textual analysis (eg, sentiment analysis, natural language processing) could add additional levels of understanding.
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Language resources are often compiled for the purpose of variational analysis, such as studying differences between genres, registers, and disciplines, regional and diachronic variation, influence of gender, cultural context, etc. Often the sheer number of potentially interesting contrastive pairs can get overwhelming due to the combinatorial explosion of possible combinations. In this paper, we present an approach that combines well understood techniques for visualization heatmaps and word clouds with intuitive paradigms for exploration drill down and side by side comparison to facilitate the analysis of language variation in such highly combinatorial situations. Heatmaps assist in analyzing the overall pattern of variation in a corpus, and word clouds allow for inspecting variation at the level of words.
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In this essay, we review research from the social sciences on how the public makes sense of and participates in societal decisions about science and technology. We specifically highlight the role of the media and public communication in this process, challenging the still dominant assumption that science literacy is both the problem and the solution to societal conflicts. After reviewing the cases of evolution, climate change, food biotechnology, and nanotechnology, we offer a set of detailed recommendations for improved public engagement efforts on the part of scientists and their organizations. We emphasize the need for science communication initiatives that are guided by careful formative research; that span a diversity of media platforms and audiences; and that facilitate conversations with the public that recognize, respect, and incorporate differences in knowledge, values, perspectives, and goals.
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This study takes on a relational and situated perspective to understand the relationship between scientific knowledge and fortune-telling. Measures included socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of scientific facts and methods, and fortune-telling beliefs and practices. A sample of 1863 adults was drawn from a population of Taiwanese citizens using the method of probability proportional to size. The findings showed that knowledge of scientific methods was negatively associated with fortune-telling beliefs. However, knowledge of scientific facts was, by and large, positively associated with engagement in fortune-telling practices, a phenomenon known as cognitive polyphasia. This study does not imply that science communication or education have no effect on promoting scientific knowledge; rather, it hopes to encourage researchers and practitioners to use a culturally sensitive lens to rethink the role of science in society and its relationship with other forms of knowledge and belief.
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Humans are exposed to viruses everywhere they live, play, and work. Yet people's beliefs about viruses may be confused or inaccurate, potentially impairing their understanding of scientific information. This study used semi-structured interviews to examine people's beliefs about viruses, vaccines, and the causes of infectious disease. We compared people at different levels of science expertise: middle school students, teachers, and professional virologists. The virologists described more entities involved in microbiological processes, how these entities behaved, and why. Quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed distinctions in the cognitive organization of several concepts, including infection and vaccination. For example, some students and teachers described viral replication in terms of cell division, independent of a host. Interestingly, most students held a mental model for vaccination in which the vaccine directly attacks a virus that is present in the body. Our findings have immediate implications for how to communicate about infectious disease to young people.
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As members of a democratic society, individuals face complex decisions about whether to support climate change mitigation, vaccinations, genetically modified food, nanotechnology, geoengineering, and so on. To inform people's decisions and public debate, scientific experts at government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other organizations aim to provide understandable and scientifically accurate communication materials. Such communications aim to improve people's understanding of the decision-relevant issues, and if needed, promote behavior change. Unfortunately, existing communications sometimes fail when scientific experts lack information about what people need to know to make more informed decisions or what wording people use to describe relevant concepts. We provide an introduction for scientific experts about how to use mental models research with intended audience members to inform their communication efforts. Specifically, we describe how to conduct interviews to characterize people's decision-relevant beliefs or mental models of the topic under consideration, identify gaps and misconceptions in their knowledge, and reveal their preferred wording. We also describe methods for designing follow-up surveys with larger samples to examine the prevalence of beliefs as well as the relationships of beliefs with behaviors. Finally, we discuss how findings from these interviews and surveys can be used to design communications that effectively address gaps and misconceptions in people's mental models in wording that they understand. We present applications to different scientific domains, showing that this approach leads to communications that improve recipients' understanding and ability to make informed decisions.
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The use of genetics in medical research is one of the most important avenues currently being explored to enhance human health. For some, the idea that we can intervene in the mechanisms of human existence at such a fundamental level can be at minimum worrying and at most repugnant. In particular, religious doctrines are likely to collide with the rapidly advancing capability for science to make such interventions. The key ingredient for acceptance of genetics, on the other hand, is prototypically assumed to be scientific literacy - familiarity and understanding of the critical facts and methods of science. However, this binary opposition between science and religion runs counter to what is often found in practice. In this paper, we examine the association between religiosity, science knowledge and attitudes to medical genetics amongst the British public. In particular, we test the hypothesis that religion acts as a 'perceptual filter' through which citizens acquire and use scientific knowledge in the formation of attitudes towards medical genetics in various ways.
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This research reports on rural people's beliefs and understandings of climate change in the Saurastra/Kutch region of Western India. Results suggest that although most rural respondents have not heard about the scientific concept of climate change, they have detected changes in the climate. They appear to hold divergent understandings about climate change and have different priorities for causes and solutions. Many respondents appear to base their understandings of climate change upon a mix of ideas drawn from various sources and rely on different kinds of reasoning in relation to both causes of and solutions to climate change to those used by scientists. Environmental conditions were found to influence individuals' understanding of climate change, while demographic factors were not. The results suggest a need to learn more about people's conceptual models and understandings of climate change and a need to include local climate research in communication efforts.
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This paper explores social representations of climate change, investigating how climate change is discussed by Swedish laypeople interacting in focus group interviews. The analysis focuses on prototypical examples and metaphors, which were key devices for objectifying climate change representations. The paper analyzes how the interaction of focus group participants with other speakers, ideas, arguments, and broader social representations shaped their representations of climate change. Climate change was understood as a global but distant issue with severe consequences. There was a dynamic tension between representations of climate change as a gradual vs. unpredictable process. Implications for climate change communication are discussed.
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Disagreement within the global science community about the certainty and causes of climate change has led the general public to question what to believe and whom to trust on matters related to this issue. This paper reports on qualitative research undertaken with Australian residents from two rural areas to explore their perceptions of climate change and trust in information providers. While overall, residents tended to agree that climate change is a reality, perceptions varied in terms of its causes and how best to address it. Politicians, government, and the media were described as untrustworthy sources of information about climate change, with independent scientists being the most trusted. The vested interests of information providers appeared to be a key reason for their distrust. The findings highlight the importance of improved transparency and consultation with the public when communicating information about climate change and related policies.
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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.
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Science communication is a growing area of practice and research. During the past two decades, the number of activities, courses, and practitioners has steadily increased. But what actually is science communication? In what ways is it different to public awareness of science, public understanding of science, scientific culture, and scientific literacy? The authors review the literature to draw together a comprehensive set of definitions for these related terms. A unifying structure is presented and a contemporary definition of science communication positioned within this framework. Science communication (SciCom) is defined as the use of appropriate skills, media, activities, and dialogue to produce one or more of the following personal responses to science (the AEIOU vowel analogy): Awareness, Enjoyment, Interest, Opinion-forming, and Understanding. The definition provides an outcomes-type view of science communication, and provides the foundations for further research and evaluation.
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We examine political polarization over climate change within the American public by analyzing data from 10 nationally representative Gallup Polls between 2001 and 2010. We find that liberals and Democrats are more likely to report beliefs consistent with the scientific consensus and express personal concern about global warming than are conservatives and Republicans. Further, the effects of educational attainment and self-reported understanding on global warming beliefs and concern are positive for liberals and Democrats, but are weaker or negative for conservatives and Republicans. Last, significant ideological and partisan polarization has occurred on the issue of climate change over the past decade.
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In a series of papers, Sperber provides the following analysis of the phenomenon of ill-understood belief (or 'quasi-belief', as I call it): (i) the quasi-believer has a validating meta-belief, to the effect that a certain representation is true; yet (ii) that representation does not give rise to a plain belief, because it is 'semi-propositional'. In this paper I discuss several aspects of this treatment. In particular, I deny that the representation accepted by the quasi-believer is semantically indeterminate, and I reject Sperber's claim that quasi-belief is a credal attitude distinct from plain belief.
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Science is a way of knowing about the world. At once a process, a product, and an institution, science enables people to both engage in the construction of new knowledge as well as use information to achieve desired ends. Access to science-whether using knowledge or creating it-necessitates some level of familiarity with the enterprise and practice of science: we refer to this as science literacy. Science literacy is desirable not only for individuals, but also for the health and well- being of communities and society. More than just basic knowledge of science facts, contemporary definitions of science literacy have expanded to include understandings of scientific processes and practices, familiarity with how science and scientists work, a capacity to weigh and evaluate the products of science, and an ability to engage in civic decisions about the value of science. Although science literacy has traditionally been seen as the responsibility of individuals, individuals are nested within communities that are nested within societies-and, as a result, individual science literacy is limited or enhanced by the circumstances of that nesting. Science Literacy studies the role of science literacy in public support of science. This report synthesizes the available research literature on science literacy, makes recommendations on the need to improve the understanding of science and scientific research in the United States, and considers the relationship between scientific literacy and support for and use of science and research. © 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
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Of this article's seven experiments, the first five demonstrate that virtually no Americans know the basic global warming mechanism. Fortunately, Experiments 2-5 found that 2-45 min of physical-chemical climate instruction durably increased such understandings. This mechanistic learning, or merely receiving seven highly germane statistical facts (Experiment 6), also increased climate-change acceptance-across the liberal-conservative spectrum. However, Experiment 7's misleading statistics decreased such acceptance (and dramatically, knowledge-confidence). These readily available attitudinal and conceptual changes through scientific information disconfirm what we term "stasis theory"-which some researchers and many laypeople varyingly maintain. Stasis theory subsumes the claim that informing people (particularly Americans) about climate science may be largely futile or even counterproductive-a view that appears historically naïve, suffers from range restrictions (e.g., near-zero mechanistic knowledge), and/or misinterprets some polarization and (noncausal) correlational data. Our studies evidenced no polarizations. Finally, we introduce HowGlobalWarmingWorks.org-a website designed to directly enhance public "climate-change cognition."
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Notes on contributors Acknowledgements 1. The Idiom of Co-production Sheila Jasanoff 2. Ordering Knowledge, Ordering Society Sheila Jasanoff 3. Climate Science and the Making of a Global Political Order Clark A. Miller 4. Co-producing CITES and the African Elephant Charis Thompson 5. Knowledge and Political Order in the European Environment Agency Claire Waterton and Brian Wynne 6. Plants, Power and Development: Founding the Imperial Department of Agriculture for the West Indies, 1880-1914 William K. Storey 7. Mapping Systems and Moral Order: Constituting property in genome laboratories Stephen Hilgartner 8. Patients and Scientists in French Muscular Dystrophy Research Vololona Rabeharisoa and Michel Callon 9. Circumscribing Expertise: Membership categories in courtroom testimony Michael Lynch 10. The Science of Merit and the Merit of Science: Mental order and social order in early twentieth-century France and America John Carson 11. Mysteries of State, Mysteries of Nature: Authority, knowledge and expertise in the seventeenth century Peter Dear 12. Reconstructing Sociotechnical Order: Vannevar Bush and US science policy Michael Aaron Dennis 13. Science and the Political Imagination in Contemporary Democracies Yaron Ezrah 14. Afterword Sheila Jasanoff References Index
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Understanding has a special kind of value that other epistemic states such as knowledge do not, and this fact threatens the justification for the focus on knowledge that the history of epistemology displays. Elsewhere it has been argued that knowledge does not possess this special value. There are a couple of lines of argument, however, that threaten to extend the denial of this special value for knowledge to a denial of a special value for understanding. Underlying all such challenges is the obvious fact that the language of knowing and the language of understanding are closely related. In this discussion it is argued that the kind of understanding that we prize most is immune from the concerns that have plagued the theory of knowledge.
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Over the last several years a number of leading philosophers – including Catherine Elgin, Linda Zagzebski, Jonathan Kvanvig, and Duncan Pritchard – have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the contemporary focus on knowledge in epistemology and have attempted to “recover” the notion of understanding. According to some of these philosophers, in fact, understanding deserves not just to be recovered, but to supplant knowledge as the focus of epistemological inquiry. This entry considers some of the main reasons why philosophers have taken understanding to be more valuable than knowledge, focusing on claims that it is more transparent, that it better reflects or mirrors the world, and that it is a greater intellectual achievement.
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Early conceptions of the public understanding of science suffered from a narrow framing of what science means and a presumption that science is divided from its publics by walls of ignorance and indifference. Those assumptions amplified misunderstanding and led to faulty policies. It is time to reopen each element in the term "public understanding of science" to renewed reflection. This journal can advance that goal by encouraging research on actual rather than imagined public responses to science, on representations of science in the public sphere, and on interactions between science, technology and society.
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Specialized knowledge with a claim on the public's attention and understanding can be characterized as topical literacy. Among such literacies, scientific literacy has recently captured significant attention. The author describes three popular perspectives on scientific literacy—science content, how science works, and the impact of science on society—and analyzes their rationales and appropriateness for the task at hand.
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Public understanding of science is commonly seen in terms of lay persons' understanding of the contents of science. This article argues that it may be more salient to consider public understanding of the internal processes of science ‐ of the nature of scientific knowledge and of the sorts of information that science can reasonably be expected to provide. Drawing on the reported statements of non‐scientists in the media following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident, the article argues that the view of scientific knowledge that many people appear to hold is not one that can help them interpret and cope successfully with sts issues. The role that formal science education plays in sustaining this unhelpful view of science is discussed and some implications for practice are considered.
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Depending on the perceived balance of risk and benefit, and on the perceived unnaturalness, some applications of gene technology appear more acceptable to the public than others. This study asks whether a person's knowledge of biology affects their assessment of these factors differently. A random sample of the Danish population (n = 2000) was presented with questionnaires. The respondent's knowledge was measured by a number of textbook questions on biology. The results indicated that knowledge increases the likelihood that a person will have differentiated opinions on medical and agricultural applications, but decreases the likelihood that he or she will differentiate between cisgenic and transgenic cereals. We discuss the implication that knowledge makes people more likely to base their acceptance on judgements of risks and benefits, rather than on judgements of naturalness. The article concludes that the effect of knowledge on acceptance cannot be generalised wholesale from one application, or method, to others.
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This paper analyses how people understand civil nuclear risk in the local context in China. The findings of the paper are based on six months of fieldwork research on a potential inland nuclear power project in Dapu townland in 2007 and 2008. Understanding varies greatly depending on local context, with economic, geographic and social factors influencing the way people view risks and benefits. I argue that when local people do not have enough 'scientific knowledge' to understand risk from nuclear power, they can still use their experience of everyday life to reflect rationally on the risks and benefits that they face. I conclude that when local people trust in nuclear technology and 'the government', and are unaware of nuclear risk it is partly because of their over-dependence on institutions and experts. However, despite their lack of agency, local people rationally calculate risk and benefit in accordance with their social identity and geographical location.
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Current discussions on public trust, as well as on risk communication, have a restricted rationalistic bias in which the cognitive-reflexive aspect of trust is emphasized at the expense of its emotional aspect. This article contributes to a substantive theory of trust by exploring its emotional character. Drawing on recent discussions in science and technology studies, social psychology, and general social theory, it argues that trust is a modality of action that is relational, emotional, asymmetrical, and anticipatory. Hence, trust does not develop through information and the uptake of knowledge but through emotional involvement and sense-making. The implications of this conception of trust for public understandings of science and for risk communication are discussed.
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This paper focuses on the way in which people deploy scientific knowledge alongside other resources in everyday interactions. In the UK headlice are common amongst schoolchildren, and treatment is viewed as a parental responsibility. Choice between treatment options lies with individual parents, with official guidance giving no clear steer. In the face of this combination of responsibility and uncertainty, users of an online parenting forum justify their actions using a variety of resources, including claims to scientific knowledge of both headlice and the action of various treatments, but also drawing on the authority of having direct experience, trust in brand-named products and generalised suspicion of "chemical" treatments. These discussions occasion expression of knowledge as part of portraying oneself as a responsible parent, and thus while they do not necessarily represent public knowledge about science more generally, they do offer a useful site to explore what people do with science.
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This article presents an analysis of a scientific article written by Albert Einstein in 1946 for the general public that explains the equivalence of mass and energy and discusses the implications of this principle. It is argued that an intelligent popularization of many advanced ideas in physics requires more than the simple elimination of mathematical formalisms and complicated scientific conceptions. Rather, it is shown that Einstein developed an alternative argument for the general public that bypasses the core of the formal derivation of the equivalence of mass and energy to provide a sense of derivation based on the history of science and the nature of scientific inquiry. This alternative argument is supported and enhanced by variety of explanatory devices orchestrated to coherently support and promote the reader's understanding. The discussion centers on comparisons to other scientific expositions written by Einstein for the general public.
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We use a constructivist analysis to describe how citizens learn and integrate highly technical scientific information about a new technology (bioremediation) within the context of a risk-based relationship with a federal agency in their own backyards. We engaged members of the general public in a workshop process where they produced a consensus report that describes how bioremediation works, characterizes the scientific issues not yet addressed, and sets the problem within the context of institutional arrangements for the production of knowledge. On the basis of their social roles in their communities, they applied new knowledge to their own experiences and worked at ways to translate their understanding of the technology into information that could be used in their multiple roles as learners in the workshop, as well as citizens and family members outside the workshop.
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Why do members of the public disagree - sharply and persistently - about facts on which expert scientists largely agree? We designed a study to test a distinctive explanation: the cultural cognition of scientific consensus. The "cultural cognition of risk" refers to the tendency of individuals to form risk perceptions that are congenial to their values. The study presents both correlational and experimental evidence confirming that cultural cognition shapes individuals' beliefs about the existence of scientific consensus, and the process by which they form such beliefs, relating to climate change, the disposal of nuclear wastes, and the effect of permitting concealed possession of handguns. The implications of this dynamic for science communication and public policy-making are discussed.
Article
If understanding is factive, the propositions that express an understanding are true. I argue that a factive conception of understanding is unduly restrictive. It neither reflects our practices in ascribing understanding nor does justice to contemporary science. For science uses idealizations and models that do not mirror the facts. Strictly speaking, they are false. By appeal to exemplification, I devise a more generous, flexible conception of understanding that accommodates science, reflects our practices, and shows a sufficient but not slavish sensitivity to the facts.
Article
In spite of great expectations about the potential of nanotechnology, this study shows that people are rather ambiguous and pessimistic about nanotechnology applications in the food domain. Our findings are drawn from a survey of public perceptions about nanotechnology food and nanotechnology food packaging (N = 752). Multinomial logistic regression analyses further reveal that knowledge about food risks and nanotechnology significantly influences people's views about nanotechnology food packaging. However, knowledge variables were unrelated to support for nanofood, suggesting that an increase in people's knowledge might not be sufficient to bridge the gap between the excitement some business leaders in the food sector have and the restraint of the public. Additionally, opposition to nanofood was not related to the use of heuristics but to trust in governmental agencies. Furthermore, the results indicate that public perceptions of nanoscience in the food domain significantly relate to views on science, technology, and nature.
Article
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.
Article
Humans have two kinds of beliefs, intuitive beliefs and reflective beliefs. Intuitive beliefs are a most fundamental category of cognition, defined in the architecture of the mind. They are formulated in an intuitive mental lexicon. Humans are also capable of entertaining an indefinite variety of higher-order or "reflective" propositional attitudes, many of which are of a credal sort. Reasons to hold "reflective beliefs" are provided by other beliefs that describe the source of the reflective belief as reliable, or that provide explicit arguments in favour of the reflective belief. The mental lexicon of reflective beliefs includes not only intuitive, but also reflective concepts.
) Resilient understanding: The value of seeing for oneself
  • M H Slater
  • J Leddington
Slater MH and Leddington J (n.d.) Resilient understanding: The value of seeing for oneself. Available at: http://www.mhslater.com/popus.html
Public understanding of science and technology: State of the art and consequences for future research
  • G Grote
  • M Dierkes
Grote G and Dierkes M (2000) Public understanding of science and technology: State of the art and consequences for future research. In: Dierkes M and von Grote G (eds) Between Understanding and Trust: The Public, Science and Technology, pp. 24-248. London: Routledge.
Simonyi's manifesto: Manifesto for the Simonyi professorship chair for the public understanding of science at Oxford University
  • C Simonyi
Simonyi C (1995) Charles Simonyi's manifesto: Manifesto for the Simonyi professorship chair for the public understanding of science at Oxford University. Available at: https://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/about-marcus/the-oxford-simonyi-professor-for-the-public-understanding-of-science/
Public understanding of science
  • Wynne B
  • Jasanoff S
  • Markle GE
  • Petersen JC
  • Pinch T
  • Kahan DM