Democracy and the Science Communication Environment

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Material Information

Title:
Democracy and the Science Communication Environment
Series Title:
"Civil" Society? On the Future Prospects of Meaningful Dialogue
Physical Description:
Video
Creator:
Kahan, Dan
Publisher:
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, FL
Publication Date:

Notes

Abstract:
Democracy and the Science Communication Environment Dan Kahan (Yale University) 11 September 2013, 5:30 pm, Smathers Library (East), 1A University of Florida Promoting public comprehension of science is only one aim of the emerging "science of science communication" and is likely not the most important one for the well-being of a democratic society. Ordinary citizens form quadrillions of correct beliefs on matters that turn on complicated scientific principles they cannot even identify much less understand. The reason they fail to converge on beliefs consistent with scientific evidence on certain other consequential matters—from climate change to genetically modified foods to compulsory adolescent HPV vaccination—is not the failure of scientists or science communicators to speak clearly or the inability of ordinary citizens to understand what they are saying. Rather, the source of such conflict is the proliferation of antagonistic cultural meanings. When such associations become attached to particular facts that admit of scientific investigation, these meanings are a kind of pollution of the science communication environment that disables the faculties ordinary citizens use to reliably absorb collective knowledge from their everyday interactions. The quality of the science communication environment is thus just as critical for enlightened self-government as the quality of the natural environment is for the physical health and well-being of a society’s members. Understanding how this science communication environment works, fashioning procedures to prevent it from becoming contaminated with antagonistic meanings, and formulating effective interventions to detoxify it when protective strategies fail—those are the most critical functions science communication can perform in a democratic society.
Biographical:
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. In studies funded by the National Science Foundation, Professor Kahan and his collaborators have investigated public disagreement over climate change, public reactions to emerging technologies, and conflicting public impressions of scientific consensus. Articles featuring the Project’s studies have appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed scholarly journals including the Journal of Risk Research, Judgment and Decision Making, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Nature Climate Change, and Nature.
Funding:
Organized by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, and co-sponsored by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), the Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History Program, the UF Honors Program, the Alexander Grass Chair in Jewish History at UF, the UF International Center, the UF Office of Research, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UF Center for Jewish Studies, the UF Libraries, the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, the UF France-Florida Research Institute, the Hyatt and Cici Brown Endowment for Florida Archaeology, the UF Department of History, the UF African American Studies Program, the UF Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, UF College of Design, Construction and Planning, and the Alachua County Library District.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:
AA00019395:00001


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