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Popular science is defined as multidisciplinary work, the aim of which is to communicate scientific knowledge, using a variety of media, to a variety of voluntary audiences by recreating that knowledge faithfully and contextualizing it to make it accessible. It is the set of activities for the promotion and circulation of knowledge built by means of utilizing scientific methods, which have an importance in the social context.

Popularisation focuses not only on current scientific discoveries (e.g., the determination of the mass of the neutrino) but also on more or less well-established or socially accepted theories (e.g., the theory of evolution) or even on entire fields of scientific knowledge.

What is The Purpose of it?

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The purpose of popular science activities is to make scientific knowledge accessible to the whole of society, which should have a positive impact on the cultural development of a given civilization. It is a bridge between the scientific world and the rest of the world; it is the channel that allows the public to integrate scientific knowledge into their culture. It is a noble task to make scientifically rigorous research findings known to communities.

Difference Between Science and Popular Science

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Science and popular science are complementary. Science relies on theoretical and practical methodologies to give meaning to its concepts. In comparison, popular science relies on language tools to explain:

  • the concepts of science
  • reproduce the images
  • use the models
  • rescue the spirit of scientific knowledge 

This is because it is not only about writing “scientific news,” it is about expressing ideas, results, hypotheses, approaches, theses, etc. clearly and plainly, but this way must also express originality, sense, conviction, firmness, as well as the character of the person who writes in an objective way. It is not at all easy. Therefore, the possibility offered by popular science media such as scientific journals to exercise this difficult but noble task is a valuable opportunity for the exchange of information with peers and with all the actors interested in the research topics that contribute to the enrichment of knowledge.

The Role in Society

Popular science plays a vital role in the staging of science to the target audience.
As with any other human activity, science inevitably reflects the society’s views and values in which it is immersed. In this sense, popular science plays a vital role in the staging and construction of the social representation of science and its actors. The discourse of popularisation exposes a series of procedures of substitution of the specialized lexicon that reflect, propose and constitute social representations. These are staged according to the training of the populariser, the object to be communicated, and the means to do so, as well as the target audience, in a given social-historical context.

So, How Do You Get Involved?

The red communicator spreads his influence to other people.
In the first instance, we can say that the work of popularising science can be carried out by non-scientific popularisers and scientific popularisers. Among the non-scientific popularisers, there is a wide range of disciplines and professional backgrounds that have turned to the popularisation of science, such as teachers, communicators, doctors, writers, philosophers, among others. Some aspects to bear in mind when writing a popular science article are:

 

  1. Be faithful to the scientific content.
  2. Be addressed to a non-specialist audience.
  3. To be treated under the process of popularisation recreation, from which the populariser has to create a new message with non-technical and contextualized language so that it is accessible, entertaining, and of interest to his or her audience.
  4. To express oneself under the agreement of a voluntary audience.

Disinformation

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The scientific world is also challenged to deal with truth, half-truths, and misinformation. Indeed, as has happened in other fields, this is nothing new. Still, the disinformation frame of mind is perhaps inexorably leading to a more widespread information crisis, as well as a greater distrust of traditional sources of information.

People can fall into the trap of becoming hooked on life-threatening fake news, hence the importance of scientific literacy. Infodemics can also affect people’s mental health and lead to emotional exhaustion. Much of this information is based on conspiracy theories and jeopardizes the reach and sustainability of the global health system. But popularisation facilitates and provides the public with scientific knowledge in a simple and distinguishable language. In this way, the importance of science journalism is circumscribed so that the public can generate their own judgment with trustworthy and reliable information.

Conclusion

The dissemination of scientific knowledge is a responsibility of all those who do research because it contributes to the democratization of knowledge, the reinforcement of pre-existing inequalities, or the communication of results to the community formed by specialists in the field. Gérard Fourez argues that the popularisation of scientific research “…consists of a public relations activity by the scientific community, which is interested in showing the “good people” the wonders that scientists are capable of producing. Many television broadcasts or popular science articles have this objective. They try to explain what scientists do to people who don’t understand any of it. The purpose of this popularisation is not to transmit real knowledge, since, at the end of the broadcast, the only thing you know for sure is that you don’t understand much of anything. This type of dissemination gives a certain “veneer of knowledge,” but precisely insofar as it does not offer knowledge that allows action. It gives superficial knowledge; it is the knowledge that is not knowledge because it is not power.

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