Fake News has polluted the media. The prominent issues facing our world today such as climate change, clean drinking water, and keeping up with our technological edge fill our notifications daily. Ultimately making communication extremely difficult. Breaking Down the miscommunications that circulate with ease plays a significant role in understanding the issues and finding proactive solutions.
The Pew Research Center explored how scientists engage and further educate the public about their results/findings. A recent study reported by the organization ‘American Association for the Advancement of Science’ states that a majority, 73%, of scientists take an active role in discussions about science and technology. The remaining 13% believe that science should be discluded from public debates. However, with a more engaged society and younger generations becoming strong activists, it is hard to not discuss these issues. Further, 71% of scientists agree that the public has an interest in their work, which help foster healthy discussions.
While conversations are encouraged, scientists are in a “tough spot” as 43% stated that it is important for scientists to receive coverage of their work in the media. Yet, 79% believe that social media coverage can create problems for science’s reputation. The problem is correlated to fake news, the lack of establishing a reliable source. Pew reported that a majority of scientists believe that the media does not thoroughly distinguish reputable sources, which often leads to quotes being taken out of context. There are additional ways that researchers engage with the public. The AAAS noted that scientists interact through traditional conversation (98%), converse with reports (51%), social media (47%), and contributing to a blog forum (24%). Additionally, they believe that both traditional and social media can act as a supplement to their work, contributing to each of our metaphorical ‘tool kits.’
Although there are benefits to having conversations, scientists and society continue to face barriers. Notably, social media plays a significant role in breaking down those barriers due to the seamless connection, yet social media manages to do the opposite as well. The accessibility allows for individuals to post quotes taken out of context, thus shifting the important substance of the research farther away towards understanding the issue and the possible solutions.
How Scientists Engage the Public. (2015, February 15). Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2015/02/15/how-scientists-engage-public/
Why Public Engagement Matters. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aaas.org/resources/communication-toolkit/what-public-engagement
Article by: Alexis Takagi