Public communication of science is still largely conceptualized within a ‘transfer’ paradigm that describes it as a displacement of results and ideas from the specialists to the lay public, problematizing the public, the media, (sometimes) science, but very rarely the notion itself of communication. This paper is a preliminary attempt to see if the discourse about genes and the genome can help us to problematize the concept of communication in relation to science, rethink our models of public communication of science and more in general the metaphors we employ to describe communication. It is suggested that the relationship between science and the public could be better understood by viewing communication through metaphors drawn from contemporary biology, e.g. as ‘cross-talk’ between the specialist and public discourse or as a ‘double helix’ coupling the two dimensions under certain conditions.
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