What prompts members of the public to seek scientific information? How are their expectations generated, fulfilled and used? These questions are being addressed by asking members of the public to report their behaviours and experiences in this regard. The people studied have been selected from various groups in Edinburgh who can be expected to have a well-defined purpose in seeking scientific information.

Preliminary results from adult subjects suggest that, in general, learning ‘the facts’ or ‘the principles’ about scientific matters is not a central factor in ‘activating’ the individual to seek more information.

This is particularly true in the case of those who join campaigning groups, for example those associated with the environment. Rather, the search for more information is the result of a predisposition to activism to bring about change. People with such a predisposition react to broad-brush scenarios judged to be unacceptable by campaigning against them. The media is often used as a source that can reinforce and update such scenarios. However, the detailed content of information would not be entirely trusted.

Likewise, members of amateur societies with scientific interests may have had their interest stimulated or reawakened by the media, or by promptings from friends, family or colleagues. Pursuing their activities in the context of a group allows them to share experiences, transport and equipment, and to organise trips, talks and even holidays where their special interests are pursued.

 

 

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

When do facts matter ?
Acquisition of scientific information

Ros Herman  

What prompts members of the public to seek scientific information? How are their expectations generated, fulfilled and used? These questions are being addressed by asking members of the public to report their behaviours and experiences in this regard. The people studied have been selected from various groups in Edinburgh who can be expected to have a well-defined purpose in seeking scientific information.

Preliminary results from adult subjects suggest that, in general, learning ‘the facts’ or ‘the principles’ about scientific matters is not a central factor in ‘activating’ the individual to seek more information.

This is particularly true in the case of those who join campaigning groups, for example those associated with the environment. Rather, the search for more information is the result of a predisposition to activism to bring about change. People with such a predisposition react to broad-brush scenarios judged to be unacceptable by campaigning against them. The media is often used as a source that can reinforce and update such scenarios. However, the detailed content of information would not be entirely trusted.

Likewise, members of amateur societies with scientific interests may have had their interest stimulated or reawakened by the media, or by promptings from friends, family or colleagues. Pursuing their activities in the context of a group allows them to share experiences, transport and equipment, and to organise trips, talks and even holidays where their special interests are pursued.

 

 

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