Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Making Science Public in 2016

NSB is a fan of the "Making Science Public" blog at the University of Nottingham and thought it might be nice to highlight some of the articles that have particularly caught NSB's attention over the last year...

Antibiotic resitance
January saw a post that talked about the hot topic of antibiotic resistance. It turns out that this is far from a new concern, with Alexander Fleming voicing concerns in 1945, and by 1969 there were calls for restictions to be placed on the use of antibiotics in animal feed.

The Trough of Disappointment
February was the month that NSB learnt about the Hype Cycle and the Trough of Disappointment.

The Hype Curve

The Impact Agenda
A guest post by Prof John Holmwood warned of dangers with the "Impact Agenda", commenting that:
"Where an earlier tenet of research policy.... was that there should be no public funding of research for private beneficiaries, that has been inverted such that there should be no public funding unless there is a direct, identifiable user."

Scientific Authority
March saw a post about the relationship between scientists, politicians and the public - with a number of interesting links, including a Demos article that described how badly the relationship between these groups fell apart in the wake of the BSE fiasco in the early 1990's.

John Gummer - A cautionary tale.

Another reference was to an article by David Demeritt who commmented that :

“The proper response to public doubts is not to increase the public’s technical knowledge about and therefore belief in the scientific facts of global warming. Rather, it should be to increase public understanding of and therefore trust in the social process through which those facts are scientifically determined. Science does not offer the final word, and its public authority should not be based on the myth that it does, because such an understanding of science ignores the ongoing process of organized skepticism that is, in fact, the secret of its epistemic success.Instead scientific knowledge should be presented more conditionally as the best that we can do for the moment. Though perhaps less authoritative, such a reflexive understanding of science in the making provides an answer to the climate skeptics and their attempts to refute global warming as merely a social construction.”

Also worth looking at this related paper on public perception of risk.

Crowdfunding Science
NSB had no idea there were crowdfunding sites for science projects, but it seems they are indeed a thing - see here

Worth mentioning, however, that another way to support science is to donate to research charities

Some comments on the "Post-Truth" world we now seem to live in, including this comment by Alice Bell :
“We pool our resources to allow a few people to cut themselves off and become experts in particular subjects. We do this so that they might feed back their knowledge and we can, collectively, try to make a better world.”

Related Content
Communicating Risks of Earthquakes
Rick Borchelt on Science Communication
What would the Public want?

Image Sources
Hype Cycle, Burger

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