In a recent article on The Conversation, Tim Caulfield, Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta and prolific science debunker, describes a new social media project, SCI+POP (use #SciPop to search Twitter and Instagram), that is working with artists to regularly circulate images that communicate research findings, provide commentary on science and health policy issues, and, they hope, engage a range of new audiences.
Here’s an extract, and at the bottom a link to the full article. Be sure to check out the links below too — fascinating stuff!
“Science communication can be a tough game. There is so much noise — and misinformation — circulating in popular culture that it can be difficult to create a message that resonates.
“This danger of misinformation is particularly true in the sphere of health, where celebrities and pseudoscience-embracing health gurus seem to dominate public discourse. Indeed, we live in world where Katy Perry has 110 million followers on Twitter, and the World Health Organization has 4.5 million.
“And while belief in science-free health myths is nothing new, we do seem to be living in the golden age of misinformation. For example, research on the dissemination of information on social media has found that falsehoods “diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth” — likely because lies are more interesting than the truth.
“Also, belief in conspiracy theories and harmful health myths seem to be on the rise, which has played a role in declining vaccination rates and a rise of infectious disease outbreaks. We continue to see a massive, seemingly unbridgeable, disconnect between the science community and the general public on topics like GMOs, supplements and vaccination safety.
“Of course, the reasons why individuals hold (and tenaciously hold onto) particular health beliefs are fantastically complex and include issues of trust and personal identity. The operation of various cognitive biases — increasingly facilitated by social media — complicate the situation further.
“But not all is lost. Surveys of the general public have found that most have at least some interest in science news. And there is evidence that we can improve our critical thinking skills at various stages of life and that these skills help protect against the acceptance of pseudoscience and misinformation.
“So, there is a need for good science communication, there is a public appetite, and it has the potential to make an impact.”
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