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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Science. Deliberation, and the Public

Many public policy issues involve science. Pew reports that members of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science do engage with the public to aid in deliberation:
Nearly all the AAAS scientists (98%) say they have some level of interaction with citizens at least from time to time, and 51% have at least some contact with reporters about research findings.
In addition, nearly half of AAAS scientists – 47% – use social media to talk about science or read about scientific developments at least some of the time. Some 24% of these AAAS scientists blog about science and research.
The scientists who are most likely to be involved in public activities show distinct patterns by age, by the level of public debate and public interest they perceive in their specialty, and by discipline. Virtually all scientists engage with citizens. Mid-career and older scientists are especially likely to speak to reporters. Younger scientists are more likely to use social media. And blogging is something that equally spans the generations under age 65.
There is also evidence in the survey that the most engaged often use multiple methods and platforms to connect with the public. In other words, those who want to engage tend to do so in multiple ways.
Some 41% of AAAS scientists report that they “often” or “occasionally” do at least two of these four activities: 1) talk with non-experts about science topics, 2) talk with the media, 3) use social media or 4) blog. Nearly half, 48%, do one of these four activities either often or occasionally, and 11% do none of these on an “often” or “occasional” basis. Those who are more engaged by this metric are slightly younger; 46% of those ages 18 to 49 and 44% of those ages 50 to 64 are more engaged, compared with 33% among those ages 65 and older. A somewhat larger share of women (44%) than men (39%) report doing at least two of these activities on a more frequent basis.