Notes from Moving forwards or in circles? Science communication and scientific governance in an age of innovation
I thought this was an interesting chapter as it highlighted the pro’s and cons of various models of communication which I will try to summarise;
The Deficit Model
The public has a deficit of science information which is filled by the science community who decide what the public should know
Example; BSE and the governments campaign of reassurance
Pro’s; Its easy, if it works then public understanding and opinion should be easy to control/manage/manipulate. It acknowledges the authority of the scientists.
Cons; Leads to a lack of trust
Two way communication model (if there is an official name for this model then I have missed it)
An open two way communication between the publics (many and overlapping) and the sciences.
Involve public discussion & debate in the early stages of development
Can be difficult when the many do not understand or know of the basic facts (eg nanotechnology)
Involve public discussion & debate in the later stages.
Greater clarification of terms and choices
The article also cites the Phillips report (Phillips, Lord, Bridgeman, J. and Ferguson-Smith, M. (2000). The BSE Inquiry: the Report. HMSO, London.) into the BSE inquiry adn its following points which the article claims have become central to science communication;
• Trust can only be generated by openness.
• Openness requires recognition of uncertainty, where it exists.
• The public should be trusted to respond rationally to openness.
• Scientific investigation of risk should be open and transparent.
• The advice and reasoning of advisory committees should be made public.
I wonder if the recent case of the East Anglia scientists who withheld information disproves the suggestion that these points have become central to science communication, or does the fact that this lack of openness has come to light and been exposed prove the point that these points are now true and anyone trying to conduct science communication by the old deficit model will be exposed?