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Communicating Science in Popular Media

with a focus on cartoons, movies, games and websites
by

ShuJian Zhang

on 16 August 2013

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Transcript of Communicating Science in Popular Media

Science in Popular Media
Introduction
Karly - Games
Players don't understand what scientists say
-> appear reckless,
uncaring of consequences,
do 'science because we can'

Very occasionally the scientist is the hero - but
saves the other
victims and
scientists at fault!
- Video/console/
computer games

Games played for fun
- not covering educational kids games

HUGE
industry!
- $2.5 billion
in Australia
by 2015
Scientific, visionary, comic-strip-like,imaginative

Visualized through imaginative settings, expert film production design, advanced technology gadgets, scientific developments, or by fantastic special effects.






Complete with stuff such as......

















AND MANY OTHERS.........
MOVIES
SCIENCE FICTION ( SCI-FI ) FILMS
IMAGE OF SCIENTISTS IN FILMS
Scientists as Dr. Frankenstein
Scientists as powerless pawns
Scientists as eccentric and anti-social geeks
Scientists as Hero
increasingly potrayed now
IMAGE OF SCIENCE IN FILMS
SCIENTISTS AS CONSULTANTS!
CAN YOU SPOT THE FLAWS ???
PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF SCIENCE
Science being potrayed in movies
The movie opening intro of Pi ( 1998 )
SCI FI ''ACCURATE'' FILM!
Should we be concerned?
Public gains experience of science and scientists
Public attitude and understanding of science
Example:
Mysterious Magical Dangerous
1st potrayal :
2nd potrayal:
Reasons for recruiting them ?
- Claim legitimacy, publicity &
credibility
Motivations for working as consultants ?
- commitment to public service
-protection and improvement of scientific image and realism
- increase public appreciation and support for science
- reduce controversies over issues
- fame
- financial gain
ROLES
assist actors with appearing or behaving like scientists; use of scientific jargon in scripts
''look'' of science
depictions correspond to natural laws and scientific understanding
Examples.....
Dinosaur behaviour in
Jurassic Park
Volcano eruption in Dante's Peak
Surface of Mars in Mission to Mars
JUST FOR LAUGHS!
Star Wars opening scene
Star Wars
From -ve to more +ve stereotypes held by adult audiences from 1990s --> implication ??

Greater belief in the promise of science and hence more support for science - e.g. food biotech, cloning, stem cell research --> why ??

Heightened concern with potential environmental problems
Examples:
" Scientoons and Scientoonics "
Overview:
Introduction:
Audiences
Childern
Students
Scientists
A novel tool in science communication
Khalid Alzahrani
* Introduction
* Definition
* Audiences
* Advantages
* Disadvantages
* Conclusion
1- Science is boring
2- Science is difficult ( Greek Words)
3- Scientoonist, Dr Pradeep Kumar Srivastava (1988)
Advantages:
1- Deliver scientific information
2- Simple, understandable, and interesting manner
3- Effective
Disadvantages:
1- Hard to explain details in Science
2- Misconceptions
Definitions of:
1- Scientoons (example)
2- Scientoonics - It's the field
Conclusion
Storyline - creative, fantasy Player has a mission, quest or problem to solve




Need a barrier/enemy and tools/weapons/skills to overcome it - be smarter/better!!
Science provides both!
Science/scientists
- cause a major disaster: war, zombie apocalypse etc
- create powerful tool and go mad with it, use to oppress or control others





Player is hero comes in to save the world, defeat the science & restore order
... BUT
Science & scientists are
usually slightly crazy!
- scientist or AI/out-of-control science is often the problem
- language beyond understanding of player, arrogant, derogatory
Popular media – what do we
mean?
* Media for the purpose of entertainment
* Specifically, NOT education or work

TV, movies, Internet, games

Why is it important?
* Influence
* Choice
* Relaxation => Creativity
* It DOES educate
* Scale!
'Popularity' defined by us!

Factors influencing popular media:

* Money (industry)
* Cultural attitudes
* Newness
* Coolness
* Accessibility (or exclusivity)
* Technology
* and many more factors
Investigation - Top 5 most popular games featuring science
Digital Australia 2012:
- Average age of gamers = 32
- 75% gamers are over 18
- 92% of all households have games (PC, console, handheld, mobile, tablet)
- 42% are female (38% in 2006)
- 83% of parents play games
- 65% is single player

Study by Interactive Games & Entertainment Association
Scientists and Tools
Cool toys,
weapons,
special powers,
bend the rules
of the real world
Can heal wounds, or even shift space, time or dimensions!
Problem???
Reflects in 'real world' - LHC?!

Valuable communication medium, but currently very skewed message - irony

Relaxation, incidental learning through entertainment, engaged with story, interactive, very popular
but
Reinforces stereotypes, promotes science as 'beyond normal people', reckless 'do things because we can' attitude - morally devoid?
Science on the Internet
ShuJian Zhang
Features of the Internet
Internet is a platform that contains all other media, but not their collective.

Main features of the Internet:
--Multimedia;
--Flexible structure of interface;
--Contains abundant information;
--Everyone can contribute to information;
--Viewers actively seek information, interactivity.
Type of Websites
Where Science can be Found
traditional media provider
individual bloggers
research/education facilities
Wiki
social network
& forums
search engine
online science news/communication
In 2006, 20% US public list Internet as primary source of scientific knowledge;

60% turn to the Internet when seeking science information;

90% users searched for scientific information at least once;

Frequent Internet users are more likely to:
believe science has positive influence;
believe they have good understanding on some science related topics.
References
Dedicated Science Websites
traditional media:
online versions of newspapers, journals, TV channels;
research or education facilities:
museums, government facilities.
science news/communication sites.

Popular examples
Nature, Discovery;
NASA science, Exploratorium;
RedOrbit, How stuff work.
Facts on Science on Internet
NASA and Exploratorium
RedOrbit and Howstuffwork
Dedicated Science Websites cont.
Presentation style similar to traditional media;

Some increase in interactivity , although it's uncertain whether they'll improve or hinder learning [2];

More perceived credibility, especially in .gov and .com; indeed more reliable as they usually come from authoritative sources [3];

less than half of audiences rely on them when they seek scientific knowledge, 10% list the first two as primary source [1].
Blogs, Social Networks and Forums
Massive information feed in social circle;

Rapid spread of information, often provide first impression;

High variety in origin of information sources, usually from other websites or media;

Many information are provided by professionals, for example Scienceblog or specific groups on facebook, but everyone else can contribute as well;

Accuracy and reliability varies greatly;
Information presented with abundant comments on their accuracy and importance; science often conveyed and examined in a manner of discussion;

Interpretation of viewers highly depends on others' existing opinions; research shows that readers' opinion towards a technology can be changed only by manipulating comments [2];

Science blogs may provide a chance for the public to communicate directly with academics.
Consequences and Potentials
Science information online may help to narrow knowledge gaps within population because of their better availability and presentation form;

Time spent on the web correlates with positive attitude towards science, more supportive on scientific researches;

Lead to better communication between scientific community and the public, and discussion within public;

Social influence and inaccuracy of information may result in spread of false ideas.
Internet and science;

Websites where science can be found;

Implication to science communication.
[1]
[1] Horrigan, J. B. 2006. The Internet as a Resource for News and Information about Science. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org.

[2] Brossard, D. & Scheufele, D. A. 2013. Science, New Media, and the Public. Science, 339, 40-41..

[3] Treise, D., Walsh-Childers, K.,Weigold, M. F. & Friedman, M. 2003. Cultivating the Science Internet Audience. Science Communication, 24, 309-332.
*20 people of my friends (43 - 12 old)
*Definition of Nanotechnology
“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.”

"
3 out of 20 like it"
17 out of 20 like it
Survey results:
[2]
Khalid - Cartoons
Raja - Movies
SJ - Internet
Games
Blogs, Social Networks and Forums
Is accuracy very important?
Conclusion
The
Internet
holds the potential to bring the general public closer to science than they ever be, but there are still a lot for the scentific community to understand and participate to promoting science and scientific thinking.
Movies
can alter public's perceptions to science & scientists; +ve potrayals lead to +ve perceptions and vice versa. Scientific facts are nevertheless important to a certain extent.
Games
provide an influential medium for communicating science but often promotes anti-scientific stereotypes.




Scientoons
is a tool in science comunication that can deliver scientific info in funny and simple way, however noting some misconceptions that can be delievered as well
Full transcript