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The Public Understanding Of Science And The Misunderstanding Of Its Affects

1831 words - 8 pages

In our society science has always been prominent in our development and existence in one way or the other. We are surrounded by things we do not fully except, and sometimes not fully understand, and because of this in our current times a separation grows between the scientifically learned and the uneducated in science. In this essay I will discuss the overlapping effect and influence of the public understanding of science in the advancing world; As well as its prominent issues of the psychological outcomes in confrontational incidents involving opposing views in scientific relations. To help describe this complicated view of science I will be referring to the article written by Brian Wynne the Misunderstood misunderstandings: social identities and public uptake of science. This article will help to focus down the definition of the public understanding of science, and will serve as the prime example in the understanding of the issues it causes.
Before one can understand the public understanding of science one must view the current model of understanding of science itself. The dominant model of science influences the separation between scientists and the people. It affirms that science is complicated, and therefore creates the belief and reliance in scientists, being the self-proclaimed professionals in that field. The people are drilled mentally into believing that the scientists understand everything there is about science because they are educated in that field. “Science produces genuine knowledge, but that knowledge is too complicated to be widely understood” (Wynnepg170). And thus the public’s views in matters of science are not founded because of their lack of expertise. In response scientists relay on the “dumping down” of their scientific knowledge for the general population, as a means to educate them, while remaining prominent in society as scientists. Science journalists are very closely allied with the scientific community, who provide simplified versions of scientific data for the public, keeping them educated but not fully enlightened. “All journalists depend upon their contacts for timely information, and science journalists are no exception” (Wynne pg168). As well as the understanding of science one must observe the issue of trust. The relationship between the scientists and general public and in the articles cases the scientists and farmers, we will observe is uprooted and eventually leads to the breakdown of the presence of the dominant model in the scenario; providing an isolated and intriguing look at a breach in the standard view; And the result of it.
Brian Wynne’s article covers closely the public interactions of science through the observation of the hill sheep farmers in England situated in the northern Lake District of Cumbria. It covers their dealings with the Chernobyl nuclear incident in 1986, and the effects of the fallout caused by the radioactive cloud that drifted over the rural area. The fallout deposited...

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