Making Science Public

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Ash dieback (Chalara), free trade, and the technocracy of biosecurity

This is a post by Judith Tsouvalis, one of the research fellows on the Making Science Public team. In March 2012, tree and plant health became a matter of national concern in Britain following the discovery of an East Asian fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England. The ash saplings infected by …

Consensus in science

At the Circling the Square 2 conference there was a lot of talk about ‘consensus’ and Mike Hulme gave an inspiring key note lecture about the concept from a philosophical and sociological perspective (Paul Matthews has provided a summary on the conference blog). All this made me think a bit more about the meaning of …

Expertise and the changing nature of universities: Reflections on a recent European Ombudsman ruling

A recent ruling by the European Ombudsman highlights the effects of the changing nature of the university on the use of expertise in science governance and policy-making more broadly. The Ombudsman recognises universities are developing closer ties with industry and becoming commercial entities in research production and commercialisation of results. She argues that traditional notions …

Improving climate change communications: moving beyond scientific certainty

This is a co-authored post with Gregory Hollin. It is based upon our new paper in Nature Climate Change, which is the first piece of original research from science and technology studies (STS) published in the journal. In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the …

Extreme weather talk: The sequel

Two years ago I published a blog post on extreme weather. This showed that unlike media reporting on climate change, which has generally been going down since 2007 (with some variations and a bit of an upsurge now, see Max Boykoff’s graph at CSTPR), media reporting on ‘extreme weather’ seems to be going up more …

Ta(l)king responsibility

In social science and policy circles there has been a lot of talk about Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). However, nobody quite knows yet what this means and how it works in the context of harsh economic realities. In the meantime, natural scientists have taken responsibility for their research and innovations in the context of …

Making epigenetics public: A problem with metaphors

Two years ago, in May 2013, I wrote a blog post about epigenetics. This was at a time when social scientists started to be interested in this new field of genetics/genomics and began to critically scrutinize it. Now, two years later and after a flurry of social science articles have appeared, a special issue on …

Climate linguistics

In a recent news article about the origins and spread of the concept ‘climate denial’, the E&E reporter Jean Chemnick refers to me as a specialist in ‘climate linguistics’. Somebody asked me on twitter whether this field existed and some people searched my academia profile to find out more. I myself also googled around a …

Lukewarmers

On 3 May Tamsin Edwards wrote an article for The Observer entitled “The lukewarmers don’t deny climate change. But they say the outlook’s fine” (see here for a discussion; I should point out that Tamsin didn’t choose the title for this article). This prompted Steven Mosher to write the following comment: “Lukewarmers have come a …

Climate scepticism in Australia

Much has been written about those who doubt various tenets of mainstream climate science. Much of this literature has focused on the United States. Far less attention has been paid to Australia, despite the fact that climate change has emerged as a central issue for Australian politics and science. When studying the use of various …