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Welcome to the Editorial Team: Elena Milani new Social Media Editor of PUS

By Hans Peter Peters, Editor of Public Understanding of Science With the beginning of November, Dr. Elena Milani, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), UK, is the new social media editor of Public Understanding of Science. She follows Cristina Rigutto from the University of Trento, Italy, who held that position since 2016. Elena is a research fellow at the Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol, and a social media expert with not only a theoretical understanding of social media but also a lot of professional experience. She completed her PhD at UWE with a study on vaccine movements on social media, and has worked as social media editor for university departments, campaigns and scientific conferences. As social media editor of PUS she will be responsible for our blog and Twitter account @SciPublic . Cristina Rigutto who teaches on social media at the University of Trento has broadened our social media activities since 2016, giving our journal some visibility in the social
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Who can think rationally about the pandemic – and who can’t?

By Fabian Hutmacher, Regina Reichardt, and Markus Appel The COVID-19 pandemic poses a great challenge – to politicians and healthcare workers, but also to the general public. Not only because the present situation is associated with financial insecurity, stress, and reduced well-being for many people, but also because individuals need to understand the current state of research in order to adjust their behavior appropriately. As our study  demonstrates, however, pandemic-related information is not processed in an objective manner. Rather, people’s attitudes influence their thinking: Being rational is not easy. That is the bad news. The good news is that the participants’ evaluations became more accurate when they had better abilities to reason with numbers.  How did we get to this conclusion? In order to investigate how people process pandemic-related information, we selected a topic that has become polarized in the public debate: mask mandates. We recruited 417 participants from the U

The political views and scary information reflected by Chinese cartoons about genetically modification

Prof. Wang Guoyan's science communication team of Soochow University researched cartoons on Chinese genetical modification (GM).  They found that topics on GM in China peaked from 2013 to 2016 when controversies on GM food fueled the spread of political conspiracy theories. GM cartoons in China reflect strong political views and contain scary information. The findings and opinions presented in this article have been published on  Public Understanding of Science . The study analyzed 257 GM cartoons that appeared on the Internet in China from 2012 to May 2018. Only 19 new cartoons were added after a retrieval conducted in August 2020. The findings showed that the number of China's GM cartoons is consistent with the Baidu Media Index on the headline news about GM. The hottest GM events, e.g., the debate between Cui Yongyuan and Fang Zhouzi and the “Golden Rice” incident that lasted from the end of 2012 to 2016, generated enormous media attention and public opinion, resulting in

Your Chance of Finding Quality Scientific Information on Google Depends on the Language You Search In

The language divide in scientific information available to Internet users  Choose your language: Hebrew Arabic We are often told that nowadays, all the world's knowledge is available at our fingertips – just a quick Google search away. But what happens when users search for information in their own language? For example, when searching for a scientific term, do search engines provide English-, Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking students with the same level of access to quality scientific information? This question is addressed by a new study, conducted at the Technion and recently published in Public Understanding of Science. The study found that search results for terms in English are of better quality than those provided for equivalent terms in Hebrew and Arabic. Additionally, most of the differences between the languages pertained to pedagogical aspects of quality, that is, the extent to which the content was geared towards young users, rather than

Science outreach through social media: an experience from Colombia

By Sofía Villa Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and now Tiktok are becoming strong platforms for communicating science. Nevertheless, the most visible science influencers are Northamerican publishing content in English. To explore new perspectives for science in social media, we talked with Astromaiky, a Colombian astrophysicist who started a career as a science influencer. Throughout his profiles on Instagram (1.400 followers) and Tiktok (13.500 followers), he is building an environment to share science with short videos about physics, climate change, teaching, and astrophysics, engaging the public with fun and creativity. We talked with Astromaiky about beginning a career as a scientific influencer and about engaging with young people using social media. Why did you start doing science outreach on social networks? Because I wanted to reach people and make them like science a little bit the way I like it.  That's why I tried to start with Youtube, which I already knew, but I fell i

Diverse public in Africa: the main challenge for Scicomm

By Sofía Villa In the vast continent of Africa -which includes 54 countries- different cultures, languages and social contexts converge. This diverse audience demands specific formats and language to engage with them. To better understand the picture about Science Communication in Africa and particularly in South Africa, I talked with Marina Joubert. She is a Senior Researcher and Lecturer in science communication at The Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Marina collaborates with the scientific committee of the global Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) network, with the editorial board of Science Communication and with the Journal of Science Communication. Marina, what have been the main challenges in sharing science information about Covid-19 in South Africa and Africa? I can really only speak from the South African perspective. As usual, the challenges in communicating information about Covid-19 are

Scicomm in Latin America: Perspectives from Brazil

BY Sofía Villa The year 2020 was very challenging in many aspects, also for Science Communication that has to struggle in the chaotic relationship between science and society in the middle of a pandemic. For talking about this and the perspectives of the field in Brazil, I spoke with Luisa Massarani on the most visible authorities in Brazilian scicomm. Massarani is a journalist, coordinator for Latin American of SciDev.Net, of the master on Science Communication at House of Oswaldo Cruz and the National Brazilian Institute of Public Communication of Science and Technology. Luisa, do you think that the Covid pandemic changes somehow the communication of science and the relation between science and society in Latin America?  As the World Health Organisation has been highlighting, fake news and misinformation can spread as quickly as the SARS-CoV-2 and can be as harmful as this virus. In Latin America, we have been flooded with misinformation and fake news – meanwhile, 900,000 deaths were