Confiança en la ciència complexa


Després del V Congrés de Comunicació Social de la Ciència, m’he trobat amb alguns elements a la xarxa que em semblen interessants de comentar i que estan interconnectats. Cadascun d’aquests articles o posts mereixeria una reflexió de mil paraules.

Boing-Boing comenta l’aparició impresa del recull de millors posts de ciència: Best science writing from the blogosphere. Es tracta de la recopilació de The Open Laboratory: The Best in Science Writing on Blogs 2009 que ja he esmentat alguna vegada. La versió impresa i la versió en e-book per a Kindle es poden aconseguir a M’agrada que els blogs i els llibres es reconnectin. Nosaltres mateixos ho hem començat a fer a les assignatures de comunicació de la ciència, agrupant tots els posts de l’assignatura del màster en un pdf legible, disponible a Issuu.

M’ha agradat que el New York Times parlés de The Thrill of Science, Tamed by Agendas, on hi fa una reflexió sobre el paper dels museus de ciència en el món actual. En particular esmenta la seva preferència per l’Exploratorium de San Francisco. Realment aquest espai de ciència és diferent. Quan hi vaig anar en els meus temps de californià em va sobtar per la seva capacitat comunicativa, innovadora i engrescadora.

A science museum is a kind of experiment. It demands the most elaborate equipment: Imax theaters, NASA space vehicles, collections of living creatures, digital planetarium projectors, fossilized bones. Into this mix are thrust tens of thousands of living human beings: children on holiday, weary or eager parents, devoted teachers, passionate aficionados and casual passers-by. And the experimenters watch, test, change, hoping. …

Hoping for what? What are the goals of these experiments, and when do they succeed? Whenever I’m near one of these museological laboratories, I eagerly submit to their probes, trying to find out. The results can be discouraging since some experiments seem so purposeless; their only goal might be to see if subjects can be persuaded to return for future amusement.

7 steps to restore trust in science fa una interessant consideració sobre la relació de la societat amb la ciència, i com hem de reaccionar els científics respecte de la pèrdua de reputació i de confiança que hi hagut darrerament, per exemple en temes com el canvi climàtic o la Grip A.

  • Communicate about the process of science as well as the content
  • Make research outputs available to all for free
  • Publish negative results and unsuccessful experiments too
  • Publish peer review comments with research outputs.
  • Attach a summary for non-experts to research outputs.
  • Make raw data available as early as possible.
  • Use new technology to open research conferences to all.

Aquest mateix tema es toca a The Guardian, a l’article The trouble with trusting complex science, on es fa palesa la dificultat per part de la societat de tenir un referent adequat per parlar d’un tema tan complex com el canvi climàtic.

There is one question that no one who denies manmade climate change wants to answer: what would it take to persuade you? In most cases the answer seems to be nothing. No level of evidence can shake the growing belief that climate science is a giant conspiracy codded up by boffins and governments to tax and control us. The new study by the Met Office, which paints an even grimmer picture than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will do nothing to change this view.

The attack on climate scientists is now widening to an all-out war on science. Writing recently for the Telegraph, the columnist Gerald Warner dismissed scientists as “white-coated prima donnas and narcissists … pointy-heads in lab coats [who] have reassumed the role of mad cranks … The public is no longer in awe of scientists. Like squabbling evangelical churches in the 19th century, they can form as many schismatic sects as they like, nobody is listening to them any more.”


Perhaps we have to accept that there is no simple solution to public disbelief in science. The battle over climate change suggests that the more clearly you spell the problem out, the more you turn people away. If they don’t want to know, nothing and no one will reach them. There goes my life’s work.

Afortunadament, hi ha coses senzilles que continuen engrescant. El blog de Richard Wisemann ens en proporciona exemples cada dia. Per exemple, aquest on hi ha un video de 10 quirky science tricks for parties. Són deu experiments molt senzill que poden divertir-nos i fer divertir, a la vegada que ens fan pensar que, en realitat, les coses no són pas tan complexes ni difícils. Gràcies, Richard!

Foto: Boing-Boing,

Actualització 19/3: A Newsweek hi ha un interessant article titulat Their Own Worst Enemies. Why scientists are losing the PR wars. Es tracta d’un dur atac (segurament merescut) als científics:

Scientists are lousy communicators. They appeal to people’s heads, not their hearts or guts, argues Randy Olson, who left a professorship in marine biology to make science films. “Scientists think of themselves as guardians of truth,” he says. “Once they have spewed it out, they feel the burden is on the audience to understand it” and agree.

Val la pena llegir l’article, i reaccionar una mica.