Science, communication, politics and power

I haven’t written about science communication for a while. It’s a thorny subject. But a few days ago, Ken Rice posted some musings on science communication which made me think. He argues that when ‘we’ (I suppose he means individuals or nations or indeed policy makers) don’t “deal with various societal problems as well as …

Marianne North: On the trail of a Victorian painter and adventurer

A while ago, my husband listened, rather by chance, to Thought for the Day, where Rev Marie-Elsa Bragg mentioned a book called ‘A Vision of Eden’ by Marianne North (as an aside, North was an atheist). My husband later told me about the book, as he knew I was ’into such things’. He also knew …

Gene drives and metaphors

I have been writing about developments in the biosciences for twenty years. In that time, I have covered a wide variety of topics, such as cloning, genomics, the human genome project, the microbiome project, faecal microbial transplants, synthetic biology, epigenetics, genome editing and now gene drive. I was lucky enough to get many reflections on …

Francis Willughby and me

You have probably all heard of Newton or Halley or Hooke or Pepys … But have you heard of Willughby? I had, vaguely, but I did not look hard enough. They were all early members of the Royal Society (founded in 1660) and involved in a little scandal to which I’ll come later. But first …

IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …

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 …

Gene drives and societal narratives

Some days ago, I came across an interesting virtual conference (HT @Sarah_A_Hartley) about gene editing which includes a session on ‘societal narratives’. I have written quite a bit about societal narratives of gene editing, but more recently I became involved in the issue of ‘gene drive’, that is, “a system of biased inheritance in which …

Covidcomm

We have all heard about the epidemic of misinformation, even the epidemiology of misinformation, that is emerging and spreading alongside the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Staring this tsunami in the face, I began to wonder: is there anything good out there as well, something we can be proud of in terms of information and communication? I …