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Who needs community-level science-literacy?

By Lea Taragin-Zeller, Yael Rozenblum and Ayelet Baram-Tsabari I get off the phone with Rabbi Stastky (a pseudonym), and just can’t seem to get back to work. The story he tells me, leaves my mind (and heart) pacing. As part of a study on science communication and religion, I was interviewing Rabbi Statsky, a medical askan (self-ascribed community expert) who serves as an inner-communal mediator for Haredi (strictly Orthodox) men and women during their encounters with Israel’s “secular” medical system. Whereas Haredi Jews are constantly critiqued for their low levels of individual secular and science literacy, these askanim often claim that the knowledge and networks they provide to Haredi individuals surpass that of the average “secular” Israeli. To illustrate this paradox, he shared the following story: " On an individual level—especially young couples—they have a very low level of knowledge, I would even say too little, really no knowledge. I met a woman who came out of a surger
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#AcademicTwitter series: How to (and why) use Twitter lists

  By Cristina Rigutto  &   Elena Milani Twitter lists are a simple way of grouping feeds of all the people you want to hear from on a given topic, place, organisation or even event. What makes them interesting is that, unlike your home feed, lists aren't affected by Twitter's algorithms and will display only the tweets from accounts you put on that list. Lists are also a great tool for helping your people to get to know each other better, improve networking, and connect with those who matter most to you, such as: Authors that publish in your field Research team members Colleagues from other organisations Journals in your field Alumni of a university degree or course Participants of a Twitter Chat you hosted People who share a common interest with you Speakers or attendees you met at a conference Journalists or blogger who writes about your field of research Research funding bodies relevant to your field You can create your own list (Twitter allows up to 1000 lists per acco

Dialogue on the climate and nature crisis

By Alan Cottey Numerous scientists’ warnings of a climate and nature crisis have been issued in recent years, specialised warnings as well as general accounts . My Public Understanding of Science essay ' Climate and nature emergency: from scientists' warnings to sufficient action ' starts with a survey of these warnings. The scientists have achieved considerable success in convincing the world that extreme terms like mass extinction event , climate crisis and climate emergency are justified. There are also many good technical proposals which, applied correctly, could contribute significantly to a turning away from a collision with nature. But in contrast with the spate of warm words from political and business leaders, the actions taken by human culture as a whole, to curb the depredations and repair the damage, are no more than a dribble. The most that can be said for the effect of the scientists’ warnings is that, without their intervention, the increase of em

Reasoning with science in everyday life

 By Yaela Golumbic, Keren Dalyot, Yael Barel Ben-David and Melanie Keller. Here is a scenario some of you might find familiar: You decide it's time to promote your physical health, start eating more healthy foods and maybe even lose some weight. You look online for the best scientifically proven diet, and what do you find? A mix of contradicting statements and suggestions, all promising they are the best way to go. This scenario is the basis for the " everyday science reasoning scale "; a scale developed to measure people's ability to reason with science in daily life. Why is it important to measure scientific reasoning? Science is all around us. Whether we choose to or not, we encounter science in numerous daily situations and are expected to make decisions on issues such as health, nutrition, vaccination and more. Making informed decisions requires some familiarity with the scientific concepts used while conducting scientific research and which are fundamental in in

Who is responsible for genetic talent tests?

By Larry Au In my recent publication, Testing the talented child: Direct-to-consumer genetic talent tests in China , in Public Understanding of Science, I examined how companies in China have marketed genetic talent tests to parents in China and how experts and parents debated the merits and demerits of using these tests. Companies promise that these tools can help them identify areas of innate talent so that parents can invest time, labor, and money into helping cultivating “quality children” amidst the backdrop of broader social anxieties. And while parents on online forums are often aware of the scientific shortcomings of genetic talent tests, those who opt to use these tests argue that even a slight advantage matters in China’s competitive college admissions landscape. In this post, I extend this article by asking: Who is responsible for genetic talent tests? I argue that the answer to this question is consequential if the scientific community is to reckon with what its members de

A sketch from the Managing Editor: Celebrating Public Understanding of Science

By  Susan Howard. I’m writing this blog post as part of the journal’s 30-year anniversary, to give a glimpse behind the scenes of the editorial team: it’s part record, part nostalgia. I am a little taken aback to be writing that I have been the managing editor of PUS for 13 years, starting in the role in the spring of 2009. That’s a good portion of the journal’s history. I’ve watched it go from 6 issues per year to 8, from around a dozen submissions a month to 3 times that; seen production in the UK move to production in India; I’ve worked with three editors each based in a different country with different priorities and editorial styles. Susan Howard, Managing Editor of Public Understanding of Science Martin Bauer supervised my PhD (in stereotypical images of scientists) and we worked on several projects together. When I completed my thesis, very (very) certain that I didn’t want to and shouldn’t be an academic, and starting to train as a counsellor, I was casting around for a job, an

#AcademicTwitter series: How to write a good Twitter bio

By Elena Milani & Cristina Rigutto Nowadays, if you want to reach the academic community online and share your research outputs with other scholars or journalists, the first place to be is Twitter. However, just being on Twitter is not enough; you need to know how to use it effectively.  For this reason, we, Elena and Cristina - the former and current blog and social media editors of Public Understanding of Science, decided to write a series of posts about the nuts and bolts of Twitter for academics .  The first post of this series is about how to write a good Twitter profile . How should I choose my handle? When we set up a Twitter profile, the first step is choosing a handle. A Twitter handle is the username that appears at the end of your unique Twitter URL and below your name. Twitter handles must contain fewer than 15 characters Twitter handles should be as simple and memorable as possible; for this reason, using  name and surname  is usually the best choice. For example, Cri