Science of Science Communication

In October 2014, as part of the celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Annenberg Public Policy Center announced it would open a new area of study, the Science of Science Communication, to investigate how scientific evidence can be more effectively conveyed to the public. This area will look at the failure to dispel public controversy over such issues as climate change, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) despite the presence of valid, compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence. “There’s a persistent gap between expert knowledge of scientific issues and public perception on myriad issues,” APPC director Kathleen Hall Jamieson said. “Through empirical testing, we will examine ways to close this gap and separate the issues in communicating science from the evidence that is being presented.” She said APPC also will study such issues as the self-correcting nature of science, and whether corrections and retractions contribute to a perception that the science itself is flawed. This area builds on past APPC projects such as the dissemination of media guidelines for suicide coverage, and the Annenberg Health Communication wiki, a site to help professional health communicators make better use of state-of-the-art social science.

Associations of Topics of Discussion on Twitter With Survey Measures of Attitudes, Knowledge, and Behaviors Related to Zika

The results demonstrated that it is possible to uncover topics of discussions from Twitter communications that are associated with the Zika-related attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of populations over time. Social media data can be used as a complementary source of information alongside traditional data sources to gauge the patterns of attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors in a population.

No Missing Link: Knowledge Predicts Acceptance of Evolution in the United States

Most Americans reject some or all parts of evolutionary theory, contrary to the scientific consensus. Americans’ attitudes toward evolution at least partially depend on their religious or political values, and prior work has argued that knowledge of the theory plays a negligible role. But there have been no systematic, large-scale attempts to measure the public’s knowledge of evolutionary theory, which means that claims about a lack of significant impact of evolution knowledge on evolution acceptance may be premature.