// Latest Posts

Making science popular: Science communication in 19th-century France

Some weeks ago I saw a tweet in my timeline which contained an engraving of an iguanodon skeleton. The skeleton had been exhibited in Brussels and its picture appeared in the 1883* issue of the French popular science magazine La Science Illustrée. This made me think of an old blog post of mine entitled “Making Science Picturesque”, where …

False balance

Last week an appearance by Lord Lawson on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme caused somewhat of a stir. This was not the first time this had happened. The same happened in 2014. In both instances the BBC invited Lord Lawson to talk about climate change. In both cases this was greeted with a chorus …

Tracing the contours of the consensus debate in climate change: The sequel

In August 2013 I wrote a blog post on the issue of ‘consensus’ in the context of climate change. This topic had been put into the climate communication spotlight by a paper published in May 2013 by Cook et al. entitled: ”Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” (for more background, …

Designer babies? Not again!

Preface: I had just put the finishing touches to this post and I was doing the washing up, when I heard on the six o’clock news that the paper I’ll talk about below has now been published in Nature. I’ll still publish this post though. It would great to compare the pre-paper news coverage with the post-paper …

Metaphors for many goals: Discussing research in interactional settings

This is a guest post by Rony Armon, a Research Assistant at the School of Education, Communication and Society King’s College London, specialising in Communication and Media, Qualitative Social Research, and History of Science. *** In a recent post Brigitte Nerlich reviewed some studies that seemed to suggest that even though metaphors are rampant in scientific discourse …

Signs and society: The Brexit bus

Some years ago, Roda Madziva, a former research fellow on the Making Science Public programme, wrote a blog post about the ‘Go Home Van’. This van combined visibility and mobility to tell migrants in London, framed as illegal criminals, to go home – wherever that might (im)possibly be. Roda and Vivienne Lowndes have also written an …

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Puzzles, pictures and participation

Creating new knowledge and reducing ignorance are two basic human needs. Science can help here, if we give it the freedom to do so and don’t chain it like Sisyphus to the rock of industrial production. Space missions are perhaps the prototype of humanity’s quest for knowledge, replacing more earth-bound adventures, expeditions and explorations, such as those undertaken by Alexander …

Bacteria, scientists and stewardship

Bacteria have fascinated scientists for centuries and still do. One of the first to see bacteria under the microscope was “probably the Dutch naturalist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who in 1683 described some animalcules, as they were then called, in water, saliva, and other substances” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). A modern understanding of bacteria developed in the 19th century. Ferdinand …

The microbiome: Images and visualisations

On Monday 26 June I went to Oxford to participate in a workshop on the microbiome organised by The Oxford Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project (IMP). This was what one might call a meta-workshop. Its aim was to find questions that social scientists can sensibly ask about the microbiome, or in the words of the organisers, this …

CRISPR, unicorns and responsible language use

I was looking through my twitter timeline on 12 June, when I came cross a tweet by Dietram Scheufele which said “’bend nature to our will.’ #CRISPR frame in new #Doudna book might resonate differently across audiences […] #scicomm”. The tweet made reference to an article by Sharon Begley in STAT News about Jennifer Doudna’s new book, co-authored with Samuel Sternberg, A …