I attended the “Science and the Public” Conference organised by Imperial College’s Science Communication Department yesterday. I was there to present a paper on some work that had been done to refresh our public attitudes surveys, and it was interesting to hear people reflecting on what we had done.
In the morning, I went to a fascinating session where three presenters talked about the impact of science on real people – through court-ordered genetic testing in Portugal, through popular diet books and through experience of patient groups for migraine,epilepsy and autism. In two of the three cases there was a real sense of science as validation – so mothers could feel vindicated in the face of errant fathers, or migraine sufferers could gain a deeper understanding of their condition.
The terminology used in popular diet books was explored by an Australian researcher working in Edinburgh. She had looked at one particular book which managed to demean the indigenous Australian experience in the attempt to conform to Western stereotypes.
Today, following on twitter, I can see some useful discussions on the role of the internet and social media.
I learnt a new word – migraneur! And Hummingbird cupcakes on the way home!