The purpose of this study is to reveal how scientific discourses are interpreted in nonscientific community through the analysis of magazine articles on “the brain science boom” in Japan.
It is important in science communication to reveal how non-scientific community interprets science depending on the type of context. “Science boom” represents the daily life situations through which people associate with science. Neuroscience boom, which is the brain science boom, is considered an example of the science boom. This boom has been criticized by scientists as being a trend of pseudoscience. However, interpretations and contexts of this boom in non-scientific community have not been analyzed.
This study surveys the diversity of discourses on the brain science boom in Japan. We assume magazine articles to be representatives of the interpretations of this boom in non-scientific community. Discourses in magazines are investigated on the basis of whether interpretations of the brain science boom have various patterns depending on the class of readers. To reveal the diversity of discourses, we considered two types of discourses. The first type includes the discourses constituting the brain science boom such as neuroscientific puzzles or exercises and neuroscientific explanations of personal psychology or social phenomena. The second type includes metadiscourses such as introduction of the brain science boom. Then, we analyzed these discourses by considering the following factors: (1) presumption about the nature of the brain, (2) presumption about the practice of neuroscience, (3) the type of actions and things that are related to the brain and neuroscience, (4) their purposes, and (5) the narrator and audience of the discourse.
It is shown that the brain and neuroscience are related to more various things and actions than those supposed by scientists. Moreover, the contexts of the discourses have various patterns such as education, romance, economic success, or health promotion. These results suggest that the brain science boom occurs corresponding to various contexts, and the field of the boom sprawls wider than that assumed by scientists. This sprawling may lead to a gap between scientists’ criticisms and people’s perception of the brain science boom. It is necessary to pay attention to this possibility when discussing the brain science boom or scientific discourses in nonscientific community.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Sprawling “the brain science boom”
Discourse analysis of Japanese magazine articles

Natsuko Otsu   Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, The University of Tokyo

Osamu Sakura   Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo

The purpose of this study is to reveal how scientific discourses are interpreted in nonscientific community through the analysis of magazine articles on “the brain science boom” in Japan.
It is important in science communication to reveal how non-scientific community interprets science depending on the type of context. “Science boom” represents the daily life situations through which people associate with science. Neuroscience boom, which is the brain science boom, is considered an example of the science boom. This boom has been criticized by scientists as being a trend of pseudoscience. However, interpretations and contexts of this boom in non-scientific community have not been analyzed.
This study surveys the diversity of discourses on the brain science boom in Japan. We assume magazine articles to be representatives of the interpretations of this boom in non-scientific community. Discourses in magazines are investigated on the basis of whether interpretations of the brain science boom have various patterns depending on the class of readers. To reveal the diversity of discourses, we considered two types of discourses. The first type includes the discourses constituting the brain science boom such as neuroscientific puzzles or exercises and neuroscientific explanations of personal psychology or social phenomena. The second type includes metadiscourses such as introduction of the brain science boom. Then, we analyzed these discourses by considering the following factors: (1) presumption about the nature of the brain, (2) presumption about the practice of neuroscience, (3) the type of actions and things that are related to the brain and neuroscience, (4) their purposes, and (5) the narrator and audience of the discourse.
It is shown that the brain and neuroscience are related to more various things and actions than those supposed by scientists. Moreover, the contexts of the discourses have various patterns such as education, romance, economic success, or health promotion. These results suggest that the brain science boom occurs corresponding to various contexts, and the field of the boom sprawls wider than that assumed by scientists. This sprawling may lead to a gap between scientists’ criticisms and people’s perception of the brain science boom. It is necessary to pay attention to this possibility when discussing the brain science boom or scientific discourses in nonscientific community.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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