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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating the dangers of pseudoscience
A global challenge

Natalia PasternakInstitute Question of Science; University of Sao Paulo. Brazil

Co-authors

  • Angela BearthETH, Institute for Environmental Decisions, Zürich   Switzerland
  • Raymond HallCalifornia State University, Fresno   United States
  • Michael MarshallGood Thinking Society   United Kingdom
Bad science and pseudoscientific claims affect us all, and even more so when they are miscommunicated to the public. Often, communication of science worldwide is particularly focused on the beauty of science and technology. While we all agree this work is of utmost importance, the speakers in this session have been working in a different field of science communication, aimed at the promotion of critical and rational thinking, the questioning of extreme claims, and why the epistemic authority of science should be taken into account. 

Our goal is to provide the public with the appropriate tools to make science-based decisions in their daily lives. Decisions such as whether to vaccinate your children, whether to turn to homeopathy to cure your illness,  whether nuclear energy is something to be afraid of, are all deeply influenced by how people understand scientific thinking and the scientific method. 

Our work in each of our own countries provides important insights into how to communicate the process of science, rather than just the results, and how we come to scientific consensus. Michael Marshall has successfully raised public awareness about the dangers of alternative medicine in the UK, working together with national press, and leading to changes in public policy; Angela Bearth has conducted many surveys on how risk communication directs consumer behavior; Natalia Pasternak has launched an Institute in Brazil to promote science-based public policies, and has conducted the first national survey on the understanding of alternative medicine; and Ray Hall has measured how to communicate unwarranted beliefs with college students in the US. 

At this roundtable, we will share our experiences and talk about the challenges of communicating bad science and pseudoscience in a global perspective, as well as providing tools for science communicators on how to address these sensitive issues in the media.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Category: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Transformation

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