How bad science
gets
good legs:
myths, misperceptions
and the media
Cami Ryan, B.Comm, Ph.D.
Canola Council of Canada Conv...
People like stories and are
storytellers…
 Important part of our social fabric
 We like metaphors
 We like symbols
Cami & canola
Photos courtesy: Wilf Keller
QUESTION
RESEARCH
HYPOTHESIZE
PREPARE
EXPERIMENT
COLLECT DATA
CONCLUDE
Buying Behaviour…
Why go backwards when…
Rasmussen 1962
Michael Specter, journalist and author
“We have never
lived in a time when
we’ve needed
science so badly…”
Why do
people
BELIEVE
what they
BELIEVE?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
FiltersFilters
GMOs = BAD
INFORMATION
Dog noses or space aliens?
HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS
Those with GMO axes to grind…
HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS
They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
Misplaced
perceptions
of who
the EXPERTS
really are…
an
Agri-Intellectual
The Dunning-Kruger Effect (1999)
less
knowledgeable
more
knowledgeable
Unskilled and unaware of it!
Celebrity influence
Those with GMO axes to grind…
Perceptions about EXPERTISE
They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
Social Media ->
‘just in time’ users
 72% use mobile technology (Pew
Institute 2013)
 Social networks
 Social media pla...
Adult use of social networking sites
and Twitter (2005 to 2013)
Source:PewInstitute2013
Social networking site use by age
group (2005-2013) (Pew Institute 2013)
Source:PewInstitute2013
From Activism to “Clicktivism”
 Political engagement has
changed
 Matter of clicking a few links
 ‘Lazy’ Activism
 Avo...
Those with GMO axes to grind…
SOCIAL MEDIA &
Personal NETWORKS
They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
Public Perceptions of
Science
 ‘science-industrial complex’ & private good
(Maseele 2009)
 Traditional science communica...
“An informed citizenry is necessary in the
formulation of public policy.”
Jon Miller (2007)
Those with GMO axes to grind…
PERCEPTIONS OF SCIENCE
They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
Personal
networks
Human
cognitive
habits
Perceptions
of ExpertisePerceptions
of Science
What the…?!
INFORMATION
Scientific Research
Good Poor
PEER REVIEW
NO YES YES NO
PR
Campaign
Replication
MAKES GREAT
HEADLINES!“Standing on the
Sho...
Scientific consensus:
"the judgment arrived at
by most of those concerned"
Miriam Webster Dictionary
Science -> ‘silent’?
Industry -> passive?
 Public sector:
 Scientists have been
“…slow to move beyond
traditional forms ...
“…more than 500 activist
organizations are SPENDING
in excess of
$2.5 billion per year
engaging in food-related campaigns....
New COMPETITIVE landscape for
industry & knowledge producers
New set of stakeholders…
…that play by a
whole new set of mar...
What’s the tipping point?
Will there be a tipping point?
 Likely never win the hearts and minds of everyone
 Understandi...
Movement in the media?
 GRIST’s series on Panic-free
GMOs
 Daily Meal series
 Fraley’s article in HuffPo
 Novella’s ar...
Some strategies?
 Stories by influential others
 Mark Lynas, Julee K – Sleuth4Health, Fourat Junabi
 Sarah Schultz: nur...
Lots of ‘good news’
out there…
34
Photo: J. Kamiya-Rose
BLOG: doccamiryan.wordpress.com
@DocCamiRyan
Cami Ryan on science, tech & ag
HOW BAD SCIENCE GETS
GOOD LEGS
Cami Ryan, B.C...
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How Bad Science gets Good Legs: myths, mis-perceptions & the media

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Canola Council of Canada Convention
San Antonio, Texas
February 2014

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How Bad Science gets Good Legs: myths, mis-perceptions & the media

  1. 1. How bad science gets good legs: myths, misperceptions and the media Cami Ryan, B.Comm, Ph.D. Canola Council of Canada Convention San Antonio, Texas February, 2014
  2. 2. People like stories and are storytellers…  Important part of our social fabric  We like metaphors  We like symbols
  3. 3. Cami & canola
  4. 4. Photos courtesy: Wilf Keller
  5. 5. QUESTION RESEARCH HYPOTHESIZE PREPARE EXPERIMENT COLLECT DATA CONCLUDE
  6. 6. Buying Behaviour…
  7. 7. Why go backwards when… Rasmussen 1962
  8. 8. Michael Specter, journalist and author “We have never lived in a time when we’ve needed science so badly…”
  9. 9. Why do people BELIEVE what they BELIEVE? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
  10. 10. FiltersFilters GMOs = BAD INFORMATION
  11. 11. Dog noses or space aliens? HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS
  12. 12. Those with GMO axes to grind… HUMAN COGNITIVE HABITS They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
  13. 13. Misplaced perceptions of who the EXPERTS really are… an Agri-Intellectual
  14. 14. The Dunning-Kruger Effect (1999) less knowledgeable more knowledgeable Unskilled and unaware of it!
  15. 15. Celebrity influence
  16. 16. Those with GMO axes to grind… Perceptions about EXPERTISE They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
  17. 17. Social Media -> ‘just in time’ users  72% use mobile technology (Pew Institute 2013)  Social networks  Social media platforms  Rise of the ‘citizen journalist’ (Gant 2007)
  18. 18. Adult use of social networking sites and Twitter (2005 to 2013) Source:PewInstitute2013
  19. 19. Social networking site use by age group (2005-2013) (Pew Institute 2013) Source:PewInstitute2013
  20. 20. From Activism to “Clicktivism”  Political engagement has changed  Matter of clicking a few links  ‘Lazy’ Activism  Avoid ‘drastic action’  Maybe less commitment to a cause  Small donors can now engage  Every little bit adds up! Sources: White, M. (2010); Sunstein 2001
  21. 21. Those with GMO axes to grind… SOCIAL MEDIA & Personal NETWORKS They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
  22. 22. Public Perceptions of Science  ‘science-industrial complex’ & private good (Maseele 2009)  Traditional science communication model  One-way  Top-down and driven by private interests  Paternalistic  Increase public acceptance?  Raise awareness  Educate  Enhance scientific literacy Old models no longer work! Ryan, C. 2014
  23. 23. “An informed citizenry is necessary in the formulation of public policy.” Jon Miller (2007)
  24. 24. Those with GMO axes to grind… PERCEPTIONS OF SCIENCE They ‘get’ it, they leverage it
  25. 25. Personal networks Human cognitive habits Perceptions of ExpertisePerceptions of Science What the…?! INFORMATION
  26. 26. Scientific Research Good Poor PEER REVIEW NO YES YES NO PR Campaign Replication MAKES GREAT HEADLINES!“Standing on the Shoulder of Giants” Media Headlines??? NOT SO MUCH…
  27. 27. Scientific consensus: "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned" Miriam Webster Dictionary
  28. 28. Science -> ‘silent’? Industry -> passive?  Public sector:  Scientists have been “…slow to move beyond traditional forms of communication…” (Ryan and Doerksen 2013)  No incentives/rewards (Braxton and Del Favero 2002; Iverson et al 2003)  Industry:  Old models?
  29. 29. “…more than 500 activist organizations are SPENDING in excess of $2.5 billion per year engaging in food-related campaigns.” J.Byrne 2011
  30. 30. New COMPETITIVE landscape for industry & knowledge producers New set of stakeholders… …that play by a whole new set of market rules!
  31. 31. What’s the tipping point? Will there be a tipping point?  Likely never win the hearts and minds of everyone  Understanding public perceptions of GE and GMOs:  Qualitative differences between academic studies & media polls  Media can shape opinion  Studies -> “wildly variable results” (Lusk 2011)  Opinion on GE or GMOs depends a great deal on how you ask the question (Hallman et al 2013) PUBLIC OPINION
  32. 32. Movement in the media?  GRIST’s series on Panic-free GMOs  Daily Meal series  Fraley’s article in HuffPo  Novella’s article in Mother Jones
  33. 33. Some strategies?  Stories by influential others  Mark Lynas, Julee K – Sleuth4Health, Fourat Junabi  Sarah Schultz: nurse, farmer and mommy blogger  Anchor new symbols around ag and food and science Meaningful, appeals to values  Transform facts / info ->  Meaningful, appeals to values “sense-making” and “social representation” - Marcu et al (2014) -
  34. 34. Lots of ‘good news’ out there… 34 Photo: J. Kamiya-Rose
  35. 35. BLOG: doccamiryan.wordpress.com @DocCamiRyan Cami Ryan on science, tech & ag HOW BAD SCIENCE GETS GOOD LEGS Cami Ryan, B.Comm., Ph.D. College of Agriculture and Bioresources University of Saskatchewan

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