#onsci: November 17 – Do we care about science?

Kristin: The next #onsci twitter chat will be held this Thursday, 17th November, 9pm AEDT (Sydney), 10am GMT (London) and 5am EST (New York). The question we’ll be exploring is “Do we care about science?”.

The Conversation has recently run series of articles on the State of Science a series in which Australia’s leading scientists give a “snapshot of their discipline”. The first article to kick off the series was by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Prof Ian Chubb on “Does Australia Care About Science?”. The series itself is recommended for its coverage of why do people reject science, how it’s imperfect, why communicate, and how to teach it. In reading these articles, I kept coming back to Prof Chubb’s question – do we care?

A recent ANU study found that Australians were more interested in science than sport, so perhaps we do care?

But why should we care? One reason might be found in Ben Goldacre’s TEDGlobal talk on Battling Bad Science. We’ll be showing that talk at this Saturday’s TEDxYouth@Adelaide (Book now if you’re 12-26!) alongside Janine Mackintosh‘s inspring talk on art and biodiversity, and Emily Steel‘s on how to tell science stories from TEDxAdelaide last weekend (will post links as soon available!). All three talks explain why we should care, but for vastly different reasons.

The recent responses from scientists I follow twitter to NHMRC and ARC funding success rates are other reasons why perhaps people should care. Plus Craig Cormick’s recent presentation broadcast on Radio National program Ockham’s Razor discussed the fact that a large number of people believe in psychic powers, UFOs, magic and similar things. Does this mean they don’t (or can’t!) care about science?

I think these ideas make for an interesting #onsci discussion, particularly whether we (as Australians and/or other nationalities) care about science, why or why not, and why should we? I’m hoping this discussion can go beyond “because it’s good for you like muesli” responses and pick up valid, urgent and important reasons to support the argument that we should care. So, some further questions to provoke your thinking:

  • Do we care about science?
  • Why should we care, what’s at stake?
  • How might science engender empathy?
See you on Twitter this Thursday night under the #onsci hashtag.


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