In a world where “post-truth” was 2016’s word of the year, many people are starting to doubt the efficacy of facts. Can science make sense of anti-science and post-truthism? More generally, how can we understand what drives people’s beliefs, decisions and behaviors?
When politicians distort science, academics and scientists tend to watch in shock from the sidelines rather than speak out. But in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” we need to step into the breach and inject scientific literacy into the political discourse.
As part of a series previewing the new book, Communicating Your Research with Social Media.. Information about the authors can be found at the end of this post.
Science communication has evolved into an essential part of the public outreach and education programs of many scientific organizations. Where television documentaries and public exhibitions were once relied upon for these aims, social media platforms have now brought new opportunities for scientists and communicators to interact with their audiences.
Australian academics will soon have a new incentive to get off campus and into the community to engage with the people who ultimately fund their research – the taxpayers.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) is currently piloting a new scheme to quantify impact and engagement by academics. It’s part of proposed funding changes under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s compelling exploration of what science communication is, drawing on interesting similarities and contrasts between the UK and the US.
“In the UK, we have the BBC – a public serviced broadcaster, in the purest sense of the word – and its mission is to engage and bring people into diversity programming…. What worries me in the US is that when you have multiple channels (such as The Science Channel ) and those channels are “specialist”, you’re in great danger of ghettoising the audience, and you end up preaching to the converted rather that drawing in new people in and introducing them to ideas…” Brian Cox
“I’d like to think that what science communication might be going forward – would include more of a direct statement of relevance to how we live our lives, to the role that science plays in politics, to the survival of our species…” Neil deGrasse Tyson