Science communication: What was it, what is it, and what should it be?

Science communication still puzzles people it seems, and that includes me. To get to the bottom of that puzzlement I looked at a blog post entitled “What’s this science communication and public engagement stuff all about?” This post provides a really useful overview of science communication and public engagement and people who want or have …

Collision, collaboration and communication

The other day I read an article on why academics are losing relevance in society. I noticed that it contained a picture of a celebratory cake with the inscription “Here’s to the first direct detection of gravitational waves” (after two black holes collided). This event happened in 2016 and was widely celebrated around the world, …

Science/climate communication: A view from reception theory

There has been some controversy recently surrounding a paper published in Nature Geoscience on global warming or, if I understand things correctly, about whether there might be a slightly better chance of avoiding it. This paper appears to have been misunderstood, misrepresented and misreported. One Mail Online headline read: “Fear of global warming is exaggerated, …

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 …

Time and science communication

On 29 March, 2017 the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published the results of its inquiry into science communication. On 31 March Tim Caulfied tweeted about an article that Andy Miah had written about the report for The Conversation. Tim said: “How scientists should communicate their work in a post-truth era … …

Science communication: Mary Somerville

Every so often, and yet again just before Christmas this year, little skirmishes erupt on the history of science scene when somebody says that the word ‘scientist’ was first coined for Mary Somerville. The claim is then rebuffed by pointing out that the term was first used in print in 1834 in a review of …

Science communication in a hyper-real world

I recently asked myself the question: Is there still a point in doing or thinking about ‘science communication‘ in a world where facts have become indistinguishable from fiction and where experts and scientists are regarded with suspicion. This question struck me again quite forcefully when listening to the Now Show on Saturday 19 November, a …