Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Science communication

Source: Australian Science Media Centre.

Meredith Booth, Science communication vital in post-truth world, The Australian, 30 November 2016

Promoting science and critical thinking to “the average person in the street” will be a challenge in a “post-truth” world, British neuroscientist and House of Lords member Susan Greenfield says.

In an Adelaide session of The Australian’s Rewire series focused on lifting science, technology, science, technology, engineering and mathematics literacy, Professor Greenfield emphasised the importance of good science communication in a post-truth political environment.

Recently named the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year, post-truth describes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential than appeals to emotion and personal belief in shaping public opinion.

“In the light of the most popular new word in the English dictionary, you know what this is — post-truth … which means what was true yesterday isn’t true today necessarily if it’s not expedient for you to say it,” Professor Greenfield said.

“Especially for younger people now, we are in an environment where people are even using this concept a lot. This is one of the biggest challenges for us.”

Professor Greenfield, whose controversial theory that digital technology is changing the human brain to respond more to fast-paced information changing the default consciousness settings for younger people, has been happy with the influence of the 16-year-old Australian Science Media Centre she set up in Adelaide.

The former South Australian “thinker-in-residence” established the centre in 2005, a sister site to the Royal Institution’s Science Media Centre in London to enable the media to gain fast access to informed and articulate scientists and accurate information.

“This is one way in which one can actually show people that the same truth yesterday is the same truth today, and that truth is beauty and so on,” Professor Greenfield said.

Breaking down barriers between scientists and journalists was one way to get the latest excitement and information about scientific issues to the average person in the street.

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