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.

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson at AAAS: Bias, Credibility, and Communicating Science

    Climate scientists inadvertently support the idea that they are partisans when they do not account for “inconvenient evidence,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, told scientists and journalists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, Calif. Jamieson also said flawed studies must be retracted much more quickly.
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      Annenberg Public Policy Center to study the Science of Science Communication

      To mark its 20th anniversary, the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania is opening a new area of study, the Science of Science Communication, to investigate how scientific evidence can be more effectively conveyed to the public. APPC also announced that FactCheck.org, which has focused on political speech, has received funding from the Stanton Foundation to expand its mission to include monitoring the use and misuse of scientific evidence.
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        Overcoming the Effects of Selectively Presented Scientific Information in Partisan Media

        Scientists can minimize the likelihood that their message will be rejected in a politically polarized environment by avoiding advocacy, relying on trusted sources, and inviting the audience to understand the evidence that justifies the scientific conclusion, according to a new study by Annenberg Public Policy Center researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It showed that conservatives were able to draw the correct inferences about the downward trend in the Arctic sea ice despite exposure to a misleading Fox News report.
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        This work argues that, in a polarized environment, scientists can minimize the likelihood that the audience’s biased processing will lead to rejection of their message if they not only eschew advocacy but also, convey that they are sharers of knowledge faithful to science’s way of knowing and respectful of the audience’s intelligence; the sources on which they rely are well-regarded by both conservatives and liberals; and the message explains how the scientist arrived at the offered conclusion, is conveyed in a visual form that involves the audience in drawing its own conclusions, and capsulizes key inferences in an illustrative analogy.
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          Kathleen Hall Jamieson delivers Sackler keynote on Science Communication

          What are the roles of scientists and journalists as “custodians of the knowable” and what happens when they get it wrong? How do they insulate themselves from charges of ineptness or partisanship? Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, delivered the keynote lecture on Sept. 24 at the National Academy of Sciences’
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