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On the trail of 19th century science performers: the case of L. K. Maju

By Dulce da Rocha Gonçalves Science performers played a significant role in science communication during the nineteenth century: they performed live for different audiences, in a variety of settings, often hauling science and technology experiments and demonstrations throughout the territory. Some scientific performers used the live event of the stage performance as a way to communicate their own investigative endeavors, to promote their published works, or to boost their scientific reputation. Other performers were interested in science and technology as fruitful material for their entertaining and instructive performances. The latter was the case for Levie Kinsbergen Maju (1823-1886), a Dutch performer with a background in stage magic who reinvented himself as a science popularizer in the 1860s.From the sensational ghost lecture of John Henry Pepper to Edison’s phonograph, and from illustrated astronomy lectures to the microscopic projection of the cholera bacillus, Maju delivered p…
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Jargon in science communication research and practice

By Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, Orli Wolfson, Elad SegevToo basic to mention, a truism too dull to repeat, jargon is still one of the greatest hurdles to effective science communication. Despite all the emphasis on dialogue and participatory actions, it's almost impossible for readers to understand a text if the vocabulary is more akin to a foreign language. With COVID-19 dictating our movements and social interactions, we are dependent today more than ever on the engagement of individuals from all walks and talks of life with public health guidelines and policy. These are spelled out in the languages of values and biology, ethics, and medicine. Jargon concerns us both as science communication researchers who aim for interdisciplinary collaboration and visibility, and as science communication practitioners who recognize the need to communicate scientific concepts in vivid and familiar ways.  To do so, we need to support scientists to learn how to talk about science in new ways. Naturall…

Gender harassment can and does, affect science popularization behaviors

BY by Lisa McDonald, Chantal Barriault, and Thomas Merritt

In a pilot study conducted in the spring of 2018, a mixed-methods online survey was used to ask science popularizers how gender harassment influences the way they communicate science to the public.

Popularizers reported that gender harassment caused the science popularization field to increasingly strive for gender inclusivity in the creation of content. However, harassment made female popularizers feel they must emphasize their legitimacy, quite conscious of their clothing choices, and wary of engaging the public through mediums or topics that provoke more severe harassment. 
Watch the video abstract to learn more or read the article  "Effects of Gender Harassment on Science Popularization Behaviors".

Networking to grow science communication as a field of teaching

by Dr Marina Joubert & Dr Luisa Massarani
A global network of science communication teachers could advance the quality of Master’s and PhD teaching in the field by creating an essential core curriculum and facilitating the meaningful sharing of course materials. Cross-country exchange programmes (online or face-to-face) could add significant value for students and lead to long-term research collaborations.
These were some of the conclusions from a June 2020 webinar on this topic which attracted more than 100 participants. With many universities and scientific institutions around the globe starting up new Master’s and PhD programmes in science communication, it is not surprising that teachers in the field are keen to network with colleagues from other organisations. Following this webinar, a formal proposal was submitted to the PCST Network to form a community of interest (in science communication teaching) under the PCST umbrella.

Over the last 30 to 40 years, science communication h…

Dutch citizens and COVID-19

By Mark Bos PhD & Niels Couvreur 
In recent days, weeks and months, there has been ample attention to how Europeans respond to the COVID-19 crisis. See for example recent publications from Italy and Germany. This blog post provides an overview of the public perceptions of Dutch citizens on how the COVID-19 crisis is communicated and managed. 
The research was performed late April and the instrument was partly based on existing surveys, such as that used by Bucchi and Saracino (2020). The results reported here are based on answers provided by a representative sample of Dutch citizens of 18 years and older (N = 1222). At the moment of measurement, Dutch citizens had experienced an ‘intelligent’ lockdown for 5 weeks – during which all schools, restaurants and cafes were closed – as well as a call for social distancing and working from home when possible. The peak was over, but the pressure on healthcare still high. 
The research aimed to gain insight into Dutch citizens’ general media u…

“The people have had enough of experts!” How to understand populist challenges to science

By Niels G. Mede 
Populists around the globe accuse political elites of ignoring the will of ‘the common people’. Oftentimes, however, they also bash academic elites – scientists, experts, and other epistemic authorities – for producing knowledge that is allegedly out of touch and useless, does not suit practical needs, and may contradict what ‘ordinary folks’ think. Such views have been echoed by politicians, businessmen, and celebrities. In a recent theory paper, Mike S. Schäfer and I conceptualize them as “science-related populism”. 

Entering an ‘anti-science era’? Presidents have claimed to have a “natural instinct for science” (Donald Trump)1 and demanded that science must “generate immediate return to the taxpayer” (Jair Bolsonaro)2. Media celebrities and business leaders have slurred science as the “big brain league” (Milo Yiannopoulos) 3 and praised common sense as an “incredible indictment of our elites” (Peter Thiel)4. In 2016, opinion polls 5 showed that 44% of Americans thi…

Italian Citizens and Covid-19: One Month Later – April 2020

Scared, Supportive and Confident in Science (but a little confused by expert communication) Trends and changes in the perception of the pandemic: the new data from the Science in Society Monitor by Massimiano Bucchi and Barbara Saracino
One month after the first survey by the Science in Society Monitor, the percentage of those undermining the Covid-19 threat decreases down to 4%. The more and more widespread concern is also reflected in how interviewees perceive the reaction of the population to the crisis, characterised by “fear” for almost four out of ten and by “solidarity” for one out of four. The expectation for “phase 2” is that a mix of actions is needed, with an important role played by research. Trust in science is high, but almost half of Italians see the diversity of advice from experts as a potential source of confusion.  Information sources and trustRegarding information about the pandemic, two-thirds of Italians (with a substantial increase in last month) mainly refer to tv a…