Moral Dilemmas in Science Journalism about Genetics Research: The case of gene drives

Guest post by Rebecca Hardesty, Ph.D. Rebecca Hardesty is a postdoctoral scholar in science education and communication at UC San Diego in its Division of Biological Sciences and the Teaching + Learning Commons. *** The New York Times Magazine rang in the New Year with a featured piece by Jennifer Kahn recounting the promises and …

A road called ‘gene drive’ and the road to ‘gene drive’: Trials and tribulations of media analysis

As people might know, I enjoy doing media analysis of emerging biotechnologies, from cloning to gene editing and beyond. I have lately become fascinated with something called ‘gene drive’, a new genetic engineering technology that was brought to public attention around 2014/2015 at the confluence of two ‘events’: the outbreak of Zika and advances in CRISPR-Cas9 …

Promoting Socially Irresponsible Research and Innovation?: That National Academy of Sciences tweet on genome editing and human enhancement

This is a guest post by Michael Morrison, PI on the ESRC BioModifying Technologies project at the Centre for Health, Law and Emerging Technologies (HeLEX), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford *** On the 30th September 2019 the Twitter account of the US National Academy of Sciences (@theNASciences) published the following tweet: “Dream of being …

What is a climate change communicator to do?

In a recent article, social scientists claim that a rhetoric of deadlines to urge action on climate change is ‘dangerous’. While I agree that it might be dangerous to get into a situation where you extend deadlines forever if you cannot achieve them, setting no deadlines at all may make it difficult to talk about …

Threads, worms and science communication

I thought I had written my last post about epigenetics. But then came along some ‘worms’ and I had to write another one. I have written about worms once before on the Making Science Public blog, in the context of science communication. And this blog post too will reflect on worms in the context of …

Talking organelles: A riot of metaphors

A few days ago, somebody tweeted an article on organelles and somebody else tweeted an article on how worms regenerate their bodies. I was just in a slump of Brexit malaise when I saw this and thought, “oh, there is life outside Brexit at least in worms and cells”. So, I started to read an …

Public Understanding of Science – the 1960s

At the end of last year I wrote a blog post about a book in which Sheila Jasanoff asks ‘Can science makes sense of life’. She answers this question in a rather bleak and negative way. However, questions about the nature of science and the nature of life have stayed with me ever since, which …

Gene drive communication: Obstacles and opportunities

The other day I was talking to two people about various developments in science. Both are interested in science, but they are not natural scientists. I mentioned ‘gene drives’. Their faces went blank. I then said: “it’s something like the gene editing of a whole population of creatures, such as insects, for example. This can …

Science communication: Does social science help or hinder?

On 20th December Alice Bell tweeted a science communication story that made me laugh out loud! And then it made me think. Here is the story “Drunk suit fell over getting on the tube, exclaimed ‘Gravity! That’s physics! That’s the cleverest thing!’ and then started asking people in the carriage if they love physics and …