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Biotech Governance: Engineered Publics or Societal Shift?

By Johannes Kögel.  For the first time in history , a heart from a genetically modified pig is transplanted into a human being—a feat that may potentially alleviate the shortage of donor organs. However, the public reaction is, at best, mediocre. Two days later, it is revealed that the recipient of the pig heart had a criminal record. This time, newspaper commentary sections are heating up , with some people marvelling at the perceived injustice of a convicted felon receiving a second chance, while others criticize the newspapers for making it a news case in the first place.  Certainly, an explanation is needed as to why a debate that has occurred countless times before overshadows the reactions that a groundbreaking interspecies transplantation can elicit. While social justice can be viewed as a particularly effective moral trigger, this debate highlights how the role of the public has changed compared to the era of the first human cardiac transplantations in the late 1960s and why ci
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Science on Wikipedia and the challenge of micro-notability

 By Arno Simons, Wolfgang Kircheis, Marion Schmidt, Martin Potthast, and Benno Stein. Robert K. Merton , a famous American sociologist, who studied the reward system in science.   Wikipedia increasingly shapes the public understanding of science. As one of the most visited websites globally, it serves as a go-to resource for millions seeking information on scientific topics. In addition, search engines rely on Wikipedia's comprehensive science content for direct responses, while Large Language Models leverage it as essential training data. Because of Wikipedia’s central role in today’s knowledge economy, scientists and their institutions are increasingly seeking recognition on the platform. At a time when public recognition is more important to scientists and their careers than ever before, not being mentioned on Wikipedia can be a real issue, given that the platform significantly shapes the public's view of science. Wikipedians and scientists alike have already recognized the

What do Americans really want to know about gene editing in animals?

By Christine Kuo. Have you ever learned about something new, and then curious to learn more or perhaps concerned about what you just learned, tried to search for information about it? Were you able to find the answers you were looking for? New technologies like gene editing are emerging and becoming commercially approved in some countries like the United States. Research has shown that people have varying levels of knowledge about gene editing, and that some are concerned about the technology.  Some organizations seek to provide answers to these questions by hosting “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) webpages, but to date no research has compared the questions featured on these webpages to actual questions from the public. Our group at the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program set out to see what questions people had about gene editing.   Using an online platform, we asked 338 survey participants in the United States what questions they had about gene edit

Corruption changes the link between education and trust in science

By Büsra Elif Yelbuz, Sümeyra Bengisu Akkurt, Sinan Alper and Onurcan Yılmaz. For years it was believed that the primary cause behind individuals rejecting science was merely a lack of knowledge. In line with this, a number of studies have suggested that individuals with greater knowledge tend to exhibit more trust in science and scientists. If this were as simple, the solution would be quite easy: Just share the facts and increase the communication of science-related topics. In fact, an entire field mostly focuses on this exact strategy, science communication, which is the practice of making scientific evidence readily available and easy to understand by practically everyone. Needless to say, however, the solution is not as simple as initially assumed. The COVID-19 pandemic, global warming, and the global energy crisis are just some of the examples in which we have seen science communication insufficient in raising public acceptance and trust in science. What seems to be the barrier,

Be alert to “unknown experts”: evidence from the semantic features of climate change misinformation on Chinese social media

By Jianxun Chu, Yuqi Zhu, and Jiaojiao Ji. We often come across news stating “authoritative sources said/revealed/stated...”. These named or unnamed sources are the laissez-passer for the credibility of the news. This is particularly true when it comes to complicated science-related issues, such as climate change, vaccination, and GMOs. People without prior knowledge or experience on these subjects are inclined to trust what appears credible. But is this always justified? We delved into Chinese social media to identify characteristics of climate change misinformation. Our study, yielding some counterintuitive results, suggest that the references to authority in a related field (authority reference) might, paradoxically, be the indicators of misinformation. The debate over climate change has been palpable, considerable, and unstoppable for decades. Even though an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change poses a significant threat to humankind, some still view