Science and Fake News:
Communicating Science in an Era of Post-Truth
The rise of fake news has dominated the world of politics since the last U.S. election cycle. But fake news is not at all new in the world of science. What has changed now is social media and the potential to disseminate this kind of news much faster among social networks. So how should science respond to fake news? What are the insights provided by science communication research that can help us address the fake news phenomena in this brave new world of science communication?
Dominique Brossard is professor and chair in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an affiliate of the UW-Madison Robert & Jean Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the UW-Madison Center for Global Studies and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Her teaching responsibilities include courses in strategic communication theory and research, with a focus on science and risk communication. Brossard’s research agenda focuses on the intersection between science, media and policy with the Science, Media and the Public (SCIMEP) research group, which she co-directs.
Strong presentation skills are a key to success for engineers, scientists, and others, yet many speakers are at a loss to tackle the task. Systematic as they otherwise can be in their work, they go at it intuitively or haphazardly, with much good will but seldom good results. In this talk, Dr Doumont proposes a systematic way to prepare and deliver an oral presentation: he covers structure, slides, and delivery, as well as stage fright.
Assistant Professor at St. Edwards UniversityMay 31, 2017
Are you a chemist that loves to play the game of thrones? A physicist trekking through the stars? A biologist that enjoys shambling along with the walking dead? The intersection of pop culture and science offers us opportunities communicate within both our areas of scientific expertise and our fandoms. This intersection also allows for authentic communication and a mutually beneficial dialogue. This talk will lead attendees on a campaign to explore the pop culture - science landscape and design their own communication adventure!
Executive Director, The Story ColliderNovember 15, 2016
Science, Sense-making and Storytelling
For public audiences, stories are typically more interesting, understandable, convincing, and memorable than evidence-focused communications. It is precisely because of these strengths that scientists should use them, but also why they must be approached carefully, with intellectual honesty and ethical consideration. This talk will explore research on storytelling and narrative persuasion, highlight the value of personal stories in science, and critically consider how something like “narrative competency” might be conceptualized, taught, and employed in science communication.
University of Wisconsin, MadisonApril 7, 2016
The Brave New World of (Science) Communication:
How We All Make Sense of Complex Information
in Modern News Environments
It is easier than ever before to get information on any (scientific) topic with just a few keystrokes. At the same time, politically divided news environments on television and online have created a world that allows us to live in our own filter bubbles in which the same scientific information means very different things to different audiences. What are the effects of these new news environments on our democracy? Why are we as a country less equipped than ever to debate controversial issues with each other in a civil fashion? This talk will explore what the latest research tells us about causes and possible solutions.
Rivet RadioMarch 29, 2016
So you want to be a podcaster. How will you get people to listen?
Award-winning radio and Internet news veteran Charlie Meyerson (WXRT, WBEZ, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business; adjunct at Northwestern, Roosevelt University and Columbia College) has been fighting tuneout his entire career. Now that everyone’s competition — whether you’re peddling news or shoes — is a click away, that mindset is more important than ever. He’ll share real-world data demonstrating just how hard it is to get and keep an audience’s attention, and he’ll share tips to keep that audience around — whether you’re writing an essay or launching a podcast.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist, Author, and Science CommunicatorMay 14, 2015
This Just In: Latest Discoveries in the Universe
Students, faculty, staff, and a range of Northwestern University community members gathered May 14, 2015 for an exceptional evening with celebrated astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson presented This Just In: Latest Discoveries in the Universe, a lively talk which blended his personal and professional spheres of astronomy, socio-politics, and popular culture. Students, encouraged by Dr. Tyson’s open approach and invitation to dialog, lined the aisles to ask questions after the talk.
Co-sponsors of the event included:
Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics
Northwestern University’s Contemporary Thought Speaker Series
The Alumnae of Northwestern University
Northwestern University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy
Northwestern University’s RSG Communication Program
Julia A. Moore
Principal, Carlton StrategiesMarch 7, 2016
Beyond Politics: Engaging Congress
After a vitriolic anti-science and anti-evidence national election, Republicans control The White House and Congress. What’s the impact on the roughly $140 billion federal research and development budget—a figure down in constant dollars from $160 billion in 2010? How does it change the way scientists and engineers reach out and communicate with lawmakers? With Northwestern receiving more than 70 percent of its research funding from federal sources, this talk will explore ways to engage government officials as well as those who influence them. Former National Science Foundation Legislative & Public Affairs Director Julia Moore has over 30 years’ experience in science communications and advocacy.
Julia Moore’s career is focused on strategic science and technology policy and communication issues. During 2009-2015, she served in several positions at The Pew Charitable Trusts—including Senior Officer, Emerging Issues, Government Performance, and Director, Research & Outreach, Pew Health Group. Prior to joining the Trusts, Moore worked as Deputy Director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies—a joint initiative of Pew and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Moore is a past Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, former Vice President of Communications at World Wildlife Fund, and past Deputy Director of the Arms Control Association at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is a former Dean & Virginia Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. For 10 years, Moore served in Washington, D.C. and overseas with the U.S. Department of State working on international arms control and security issues.
Associate Professor of Psychology, Northwestern UniversityJuly 21, 2014
The human brain is sometimes the most powerful and sophisticated device in the known universe. But sometimes its power is deeply limited – like when it tries to store a new phone number. When you present your research, you relay a complex story to the brains in your audience – but too many presenters do not account for the limitations of their audience’s attention, understanding, and memory. This talk introduced a set of principles from cognitive psychology that guide the construction of engaging presentations, clear explanations, and scaffolding for memory.
Chief Curiosity Correspondent, The Field MuseumJune 30, 2014
The value of communicating scientific research with the public
The term “scientist” often inspires the stale image of lab goggles and a white coat, but who’s responsible for transforming this stereotype—the media or the scientists themselves? Is a harmless stereotype all that bad?
The public’s interpretation of scientists and their work influences levels of personal investment and involvement when it comes to making decisions that are informed by scientific research. It’s beneficial for researchers of all types to consider incorporating science communication as an integral part of their work in order to ensure our society may reach a higher degree of literacy in those fields.
Join Emily Graslie, the Chief Curiosity Correspondent of The Field Museum, as she discusses a variety of ways in which science communicators may work as liaisons between researchers and non-specialists in order to achieve these goals.
Scientific American, North Carolina Museum of Natural SciencesJune 18, 2014
A Science Comedian's Guide to Communicating Science
If you drew a Venn Diagram featuring the two sets “science” and “comedy,” you might not expect to find much at their intersection. But Brian Malow draws on two decades as a stand up comedian to help scientists communicate better with general audiences. In a presentation that both amused and educated, Brian offered advice on a range of topics including stage presence, connecting with audiences, using analogies, and abusing PowerPoint.
Brian Malow is Earth’s premier science comedian (self-proclaimed). He has worked with the NSF, AAAS, NASA, ACS, AGU, and many other acronyms. He has produced science videos for Time Magazine’s website and audio essays for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s radio show.
Professor of Science Communication, CornellNovember 6, 2014
Science communication: Deficits, dialogues, and deniers
Some models of science communication focus on “filling the deficit” of knowledge, while others emphasize “dialogue” among different groups with interests in public issues that have science-linked components. Data shows that levels of knowledge (addressed by deficit-model communication) don’t correlate very well with attitudes towards science (addressed by dialogue-model events). What’s more, neither model deals well with people who actively deny knowledge that scientists see as extremely reliable (such as evolution or the relationship of autism and vaccines). So what are the implications for science communicators as they plan their activities?
Bruce Lewenstein is Professor of Science Communication at Cornell University, where he is chair of the Department of Science & Technology Studies as well as an active member of the Departments of Communication. He works primarily on the history of public communication of science, with excursions into other areas of science communication (such as informal science education). He has also been very active in international activities that contribute to education and research on public communication of science and technology, especially in the developing world. In general, he tries to document the ways that public communication of science is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.
Resident Director, The Second CityJuly 8, 2013
The Science of Improvisation
Much as science is a method for unraveling the mysteries of the world, improvisation is a method for unlocking creativity and improving communication. Matt Hovde (Resident Director, The Second City) will help participants explore how the techniques that fuel the comedy of artists like Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and Steve Carell, help non-performers with innovation, audience interaction, and collaboration.
Matt Hovde is a Resident Director for The Second City, as well as the Artistic Director of their Chicago Training Center. Credits include: Let Them Eat Chaos; Who Do We think We Are; Sky’s the Limit (Weather Permitting); Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies!; America: All Better!; Studs Terkel’s Not Working; Rod Blagojevich Superstar!; Campaign Supernova; Between Barack and a Hard Place; and The Best of The Second City. He was also a co-founder of the Galileo Players, a sketch troupe inspired by science and philosophy.