Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

It’s Not Just About “The Science”

Credit: Mopic/Adobe

Credit: Mopic/Adobe

By Rachel A. Ankeny & Heather J. Bray

Female scientists and health professionals have revealed that opposition to genetically modified food is less about “the science” and more about perceived conflicts with personal values.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Opposition to a technology is often thought to be caused by a lack of understanding of the underlying science. In response, scientists and science communicators often explain the scientific details in the hope that these facts will persuade people to change their behaviours or beliefs.

Despite attempts to move away from this “deficit model” of science communication, it continues to persist, in part because we still don’t really understand how people interact with science in their everyday lives. Everyday decision-making that requires consideration of scientific evidence, risks and benefits is not usually included when scientific engagement is measured or studied (see Searle’s 2014 report on how Australians engage with science at https://tinyurl.com/k77ef74). Another complicating factor is that people have multiple roles that affect the ways in which they make decisions: as citizen, consumer, scientist and carer, to name a few.

Even the very idea that there is a single body of knowledge known as “science” is problematic. Scientific disciplines have different ways of looking at key concepts such as risk, sometimes bringing scientists into opposition with each other. For example, people working to develop genetically modified (GM) crops, such as molecular biologists, are more...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.