// Latest Posts

A new variant in covid speak

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Reynolds alerted me to an interesting new variant in covid speak, a metaphor used by the Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam in the context of talking about vaccines and variants (a variant is a virus with one or two mutations). As reported by CBC on March …

Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors

Recently somebody asked me something about metaphor and I thought to myself, what the heck do you know about metaphor? Actually, not an awful lot, given all the stuff I have written about it, or rather the stuff that I have written which involves some sort of reference to metaphor. So, I started to make …

From covidiots to vaxxies: How our pandemic language changed over a year

When the pandemic started in early 2020, I began to record some of the changes in our language that this global upheaval brought with it. The language of war was everywhere, a type of language that we are quite used to from other health emergencies. But a new language also began to emerge. We started …

Symmetry as false balance? Questions for STS

I am not getting involved in the Richard Dawkins tweet debate about whether ‘science’ is a social construct or not. However, seeing the debate flow past me on Twitter triggered a stream of thoughts which I’ll summarise in this blog post – about STS, the symmetry principle, false balance, and how to find ways to …

Percy and Ginny: Science and politics in space

For about a decade, I have, off and on, been writing blog posts about space, space probes and space travel as part of the Making Science Public blog. Since 2012, I have been following the Mars rover Curiosity on Twitter, or rather its digital alter ego the Sarcastic Rover. I have a cast iron model …

Naming without shaming: A virus communication conundrum

We have all heard about the Kent strain of the coronavirus, or the UK or English strain for that matter, or the South African strain, or the Brazilian strain, not to forget the despicable references to the China or Wuhan virus by a former president of the United States. It’s good that we know about …

Loaded language

A lot has been written about the dangers of war metaphors used by politicians during the pandemic. But war metaphors are of course everywhere in political speech, where people fight elections, defeat opponents, battle against the odds. It is almost impossible to think about politics without thinking of it as a battle to be won. …

Science Communication Research: Past Patterns and Future Perspectives

This post was first published by Alexander Gerber on the Public Understanding of Science Blog on 7 January 2021. It is cross-posted here with permission. This post provides an overview of a book Alex and his team recently published (open access) entitled Science Communication Research: An empirical field analysis. *** Just like other research fields …

Mutation, vaccination, communication

It is extremely difficult to keep up with pandemic news at the moment. We are now a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and instead of just running away from the virus through social distancing, we are now engaging in a race with it through vaccination. Whether we will win the race depends on how many …