PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Evaluating public communication of science and technology
The case of the Ebola virus

bankole falade  

Evaluating public communication of science and technology: The case of the Ebola virus The spread of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa and the global panic that followed has shown that communicating science alone is not enough to change behavior and as such must be embedded in its social psychological context. Science communication practices during a crisis such as EVD faces several obstacles as the scientific message competes with nonscientific discourses on the origin, spread and control of the disease. Risk communication, focused on information and behavioral advice, is propagated by experts but other transmission processes are taking place concurrently in the public by both scientific experts and other non-scientific actors.With the EVD, conspiratorial ideas and religious beliefs about the origin of Ebola; traditional and cultural beliefs and practices on the origin of disease, treatment and death of loved ones encouraged denial and resistance to the scientific message. Such competing systems of knowledge spread at the same time, interfering with control and containment. This paper is part of an ongoing research into the spread of the EVD in parts of West Africa (Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The media analysis involves newspapers from across Africa covering 24 months. This paper presents the ongoing analysis which identifies the actors, the collectives (e.g., groups, organizations, countries) and the representations of the virus in the media.

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