Much of what researchers believe about the public and effective communication is wrong.
By Matthew C. Nisbet and Dietram A. Scheufele | July 23, 2012
Scientists in the United States and Europe have long been concerned with how well the public understands science, whether or not the media adequately covers science, and how the public reaches decisions on complex science-related policy issues. Given the norms of our profession, however, it is ironic that many of these debates about how to best communicate science with lay populations are driven by intuitive assumptions on the part of scientists rather than the growing body of social science research on the topic that has developed over the past 2 decades.
In May, more than 500 researchers, journalists, and policy professionals gathered at the National Academies in Washington, DC, for a 2-day forum on the “Science of Science Communication” to dispel some of these intuitive but persistent myths about science, the media, and the public. Here are five that relate closely to our own work in the area:
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