The proposal to vaccinate adolescent girls against the human papilloma virus ignited political controversy, as did the advent of fracking and a host of other emerging technologies. These disputes attest to the persistent gap between expert and public perceptions. Complicating the communication of sound science and the debates that surround the societal applications of that science is a changing media environment in which misinformation can elicit belief without corrective context and likeminded individuals are prone to seek ideologically comforting information within their own self-constructed media enclaves.
Drawing on the expertise of leading science communication scholars from six countries, The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication not only charts the media landscape – from news and entertainment to blogs and films – but also examines the powers and perils of human biases – from the disposition to seek confirming evidence to the inclination to overweight endpoints in a trend line. In the process, it draws together the best available social science on ways to communicate science while also minimizing the pernicious effects of human bias.
The Handbook adds case studies exploring instances in which communication undercut or facilitated the access to scientific evidence. The range of topics addressed is wide, from genetically engineered organisms and nanotechnology to vaccination controversies and climate change. Also unique to The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication is a focus on the complexities of involving the public in decision making about the uses of science, the regulations that should govern its application, and the ethical boundaries within which science should operate. The Handbook is an invaluable resource for researchers in the communication fields, particularly in science and health communication, as well as to scholars involved in research on scientific topics susceptible to distortion in partisan debate.
Introduction: Why Science Communication?
Part I: The Science of Communicating science
1. The Need for a Science of Science Communication: Communicating Science's Values and Norms
2. Overview of the Science of Science Communication
3. On the Sources of Ordinary Science Knowledge and Extraordinary Science Ignorance
4. How Changing Media Structures Are Affecting Science News Coverage
5. What the Public Thinks and Knows about Science: And Why It Matters
6. Scientific Controversies: Can the Science of Science Communication Provide Management Guidance or only Analysis?
7. A Recap: The Science of Communicating Science
Part II: Identifying and Overcoming Challenges to Science Featured in Attacks on Science
8. Science as "Broken" Versus Science as "Self-Correcting": How Retractions and Peer-Review Problems are Exploited to Attack Science
9. Publication Bias in Science: What is it, Why is it Problematic, and How Can It Be Addressed?
10. Statistical Biases in Science Communication: What We Know About Them and How They Can Be Addressed
11. Is there a Hype Problem in Science? If So, How is it Addressed?
12. Is there a Retraction Problem? And, If So, What Do We Know About How It Is and Can Be Addressed?
13. A Recap: Identifying and Overcoming Challenges to Science Featured in Attacks on Science
Part III: Science Comunication in Action: Failures & Successes
14. A Comparative Study of Communication about Food Safety Before, During and After the "Mad Cow" Crisis
15. Cross-National Comparative Communication and Deliberation about the Risks of Nanotechnologies
16. Communications about Biotechnologies and GMOs across Europe
17. A Tale of Two Vaccines - and their Science Communication Environments
18. A Recap: Science Communication in Action
Part IV: The roles of Elite Intermediaries in Communicating Science
19. Science Communication at Scientific Institutions
20. The Role of Scholarly Presses and Journals
21. The Role of Governmental Organizations in Communicating About Regulating Science
22. Science Communication and Museums' Changing Roles
23. The Role of Funding Organizations: Foundations
24. Promoting Popular Understanding of Science and Health through Social Networks
25. Designing Public Deliberation at the Intersection of Science and Public Policy
26. Translating Science into Policy and Legislation: Evidence-informed Policy Making
27. A Recap: The Role of Intermediaries in Communicating Science: A Synthesis
Part V: The Role, Power, and Peril of Media for the Communication of Science
28. The (Changing) Nature of Scientist-Media Interactions: A Cross National Analysis
29. New Models of Knowledge-Based Journalism
30. Citizens Making Sense of Science Issues: Supply and Demand Factors for Science News and Information in the Digital Age
31. The Changing Popular Images of Science
32. What Do We Know About the Entertainment Industry's Portrayal of Science? How Does It Affect Public Attitudes Toward Science?
33. How Narrative Functions in Entertainment to Communicate Science
34. Assumptions about Science in Satirical News and Late Night Comedy
35. A Recap: The Role, Power, and Peril of Media for the Communication of Science
Part VI: Challenges in Communicating Science in a Polarized Environment
36. Countering False Beliefs: An Analysis of the Evidence and Recommendations of Best Practices for the Retraction and Correction of Scientific Misinformation
37. Using Frames to Make Scientific Communication More Effective
38. Philosophical Impediments to Citizens' Use of Science
39. Overcoming Confirmation and Blind Spot Bias When Communicating Science
40. Understanding and Overcoming Selective Exposure and Judgement When Communicating About Science
41. Overcoming Innumeracy and the Use of Heuristics When Communicating Science
42. Overcoming Biases in Processing of Time Series Data about Climate
43. Understanding and Overcoming Fear of the Unnatural in Discussion of GMOs
44. Protecting or Polluting the Science Communication Environment? The Case of Childhood Vaccines
45. Overcoming False Causal Attribution: Debunking the MMR-Autism Association
46. Overcoming the Challenges of Communicating Uncertainty Across National Contexts
47. A Recap: Heuristics, Biases, Values and Other Challenges to Communicating Science
Conclusion: On the Horizon: The Changing Science Communication Environment
Kathleen Hall Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania and the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of its Annenberg Public Policy Center. The author of four award winning Oxford University Press books on political and press communications, she is co-founder of FactCheck.org, which researches the veracity of claims made by political players. Its SciCheck feature was launched in 2015 to expose the misuse of scientific evidence in political discourse.
Dan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School. He is a member of the Cultural Cognition Project, an interdisciplinary team of scholars who use empirical methods to examine the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and science communication.
Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research. His research deals with the interface of media, policy, and public opinion. Scheufele has co-chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences, and vice-chaired the recent Academies' consensus report Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda.
"There is growing acknowledgement within the scientific community that if we are to get science’s voice heard then we need to better understand our audiences and deliver more appropriate and effective communications. While science is grounded in empirical work and the evaluation of evidence, we have often failed to adopt a similar approach for science communication. This makes this new publication particularly timely, bringing together empirical evidence from fields as diverse as sociology, political science and biotechnology to examine how science can be best communicated.
Forty-seven chapters, authored by 57 different academics and professionals, are grouped into six broader areas to provide a comprehensive overview of this emerging subject. By distilling the knowledge and evidence being collected across a diversity of research, the editors have delivered a very useful tool for those working in science and science communication.
The Oxford Handbooks series seeks to provide authoritative and up-to-date reviews of original research across a very broad suite of topic areas, from rhetorical studies to international law and the management of megaprojects. This particular book delivers on these aims and feels especially timely. Putting aside the cover price, this is a book that those working in science communication should read, as should those researchers keen to see their work communicated effectively to key audiences."
– Mike Toms, BTO book reviews