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Bruce Lewenstein — Science communication: Deficits, dialogues, and deniers

Bruce Lewenstein, professor of Communication (COMM), and science and technology studies (STS).

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.

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