I have felt uneasy about the whole science of science communication thing for a while now. Some night thoughts recently helped me formulate why: The science of science communication is just the deficit model in disguise. We all know that the deficit model is just so 1980s and we have all moved on from that now, haven’t we? Now our professed concerns are with engagement, dialogue, co-creation, so why is there such importance attached to the science of science communication? How much co-creation can there be if the ground-rules for dialogue state that one side is right? If we are … Continue reading Deficits in Disguise: the science of science communication
There is an easy assumption that science and democracy are natural companions, even that they are necessary for each other. A historical perspective, as usual, says it is not as simple as that. With so much concern about the relationship between science and politics I keep meaning to explore this subject further and wish I had something to hand to point at with each fresh discussion. For now all I can point to is a very short commentary on “Science Communication: process power and politics” which is due to appear in the next issue of the Journal of Science Communication, … Continue reading Science and Democracy
“Hello, how are you?” “Not too bad. And yourself?” “Oh, mustn’t grumble” This, and countless variations like it, is a common exchange between two people. The enquiries about health and welfare are not really requests to get access to medical information, nor are the responses attempts to give proper answers. Very occasionally this opening exchange might be taken as an opportunity to talk about an especially dramatic or important event (recent wedding, holiday, death etc) but most times it simply renews the bond between the speakers. Much (maybe even most) everyday conversation is built upon these kinds of “phatic” statements … Continue reading Phatic Sci-Comm
Science communication has failed Rearranging the furniture in the White House are a President who said climate change was a hoax, and a Vice-President who does not accept the theory of evolution. The rest of Trump’s cabinet is an equally deplorable bunch when it comes to science (or, indeed, anything else when it comes to being decent and humane). I’m not blaming science communication for the election of Trump. But Trump’s Presidency is evidence that science communication has failed. You might say that this has little to do with science communication, that Trump won the election on other issues but … Continue reading Sci-Comm: What is to be done?
We now have 4G (or it is 5G?) phones. Maybe it’s time we moved on to 3G science communication. The marketing exercise that often passes for science communication is clearly recognisable as a first generation model. Still running on the “deficit” operating system this 1G model was programmed to look for “effectiveness” and “right” answers. Some scientists had problems with reception but you could always turn up the volume. Second generation science communication came with extra capacity for a “dialogue” between science and the public. The PEST operating system for 2G scicomm tried to introduce the “engagement” app, but many … Continue reading 3G Science Communication
William Paley was born in Peterborough in July 1743, the eldest child of William Paley and Elizabeth Clapham. He died 25 May 1805 in Bishop Wearmouth. His father was a minor canon at Peterborough and later headmaster at the grammar school in Giggleswick, West Yorkshire. Educated at his father’s school and Christ’s College, Cambridge, Paley graduated as senior wrangler in 1763 and was elected a fellow in 1766. Ordained in 1767, Paley enjoyed the patronage of the Bishop of Carlisle, receiving a number of rectories in Cumberland and Westmoreland and was eventually appointed Archdeacon of Carlisle in 1782. In 1794 … Continue reading PALEY, Reverend William (1743-1805)
In 1898 one correspondent to Cassell’s Saturday Journal felt able to write “We seem to be so up‑to‑date nowadays that I don’t see that there is really much else to be invented.” And who could have argued with them? A surfeit of wonders, `latest improvements’, and `startling developments’ had brought a nation to expect a new advance on an almost daily basis. “…the times in which we live may well be called the `age of invention’”, reported one magazine. “Never before, it would seem, have men so ardently studied the secrets of nature, and turned the knowledge thus acquired to … Continue reading Nothing Left to Invent: Victorian visions of the future