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 …

Covid metaphors: Three chapters and a special issue

When the pandemic began and I listened in to the chatter on the news, I started to think about the metaphors people used to talk about this devastating global event. I wrote quite a few blog posts on language, communication and metaphors. I also began various more academic activities which led to a special issue …

Covid metaphors: Around the world in eight articles

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, Martin Döring (Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg) and I (Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham) began to assemble and then edit articles dealing with its metaphorical framing around the world (not the whole world, of course!). Covid-19 killed millions of people and caused huge distress …

Omicron: From Frankenstein to Hurricane

When threatened by anything from AIDs to zoonoses, we unconsciously use war metaphors and natural force metaphors (storms, tsunamis, fires, avalanches, volcanoes etc.). We can also use more consciously created metaphors, such as Frankenstein (created in the 1990s). Such old and new metaphors help us understand and mitigate old and new risks and threats. War …

Superimmunity

From the start of the pandemic in the distant spring of 2020 linguists and communication researchers have kept an eye on language. They observed the emergence of new words, such as ‘covid’ and ‘covidiots’ and the increase in use and understanding of older or jargon words, such as pandemic, coronavirus, lockdown, social distancing, bubbles, and …

Making Science Public 2021: End of year round-up of blog posts

We are coming to the end of a another pandemic year, and time seems to expand endlessness towards an uncertain horizon. That means quite a few of my blog posts this year were still devoted to covid and the pandemic, but I also wrote about genetics, climate change and some other incidental topics. As usual, …

Covid, cowering and cowardice

We all remember Boris Johnson saying in March 2020 that we should take covid on the chin, followed by him saying in April that year that Covid was an invisible mugger that one should wrestle to the floor. This metaphorical framing of the virus as a physical assailant and of those having to deal with …

Walls and covid

A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief blog post about the wall metaphor used during the pandemic. I approved of it, as it highlighted community action: the more individuals get vaccinated, the more protection there is for everybody – one brick doesn’t make a wall, but many do. The metaphor is now being used …

Coronavirus and mental health: Risks, protective factors and care

This is a guest post by Dr Rusi Jaspal who is Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. E-mail: rusi.jaspal@ntu.ac.uk Twitter: @ProfRJaspal *** For several years, my colleagues and I have studied the effects of major social change on people’s sense of identity and psychological wellbeing. We have done so primarily through …

Covid, consensus and conspiracy: Mapping a change in narrative

I have written about the concept of consensus before, in the context of climate change. Now it’s time to write a few words on how consensus is used as a concept in the context of covid, or more precisely, in the debate about the origins of the coronavirus. The emerging literature surrounding this origin story …