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Minister calls for science to be better conveyed to public

Image: Ars Electronica [CC BY-ND-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Austria’s Martin Polaschek pushes for move to combat public scepticism

Austria’s science minister has called for the scientific method to be better communicated and explained, as part of an effort to combat public scepticism of science.

During a session of the European Forum Alpbach in western Austria on 29 August, Martin Polaschek (pictured) said he wanted the communication of scientific work to be improved, according to an Austrian Science Fund report of the event.

He cited a recent study from the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) on causes of science scepticism in Austria, which IHS Vienna researcher Johannes Starkbaum, speaking at the same event, said had found that about 10 per cent of the Austrian population were science sceptics.

Polaschek said the study provided the science ministry with the information to develop targeted projects, and that discussions were being held on how to best improve existing programmes.

Starkbaum echoed Polaschek, arguing that there was a need to better explain how science works.

So did Bavaria’s science minister, Markus Blume, who said strong science communication makes democracy “resilient”.

Some participants put forward concrete proposals. Sylvia Kerschbaum-Gruber, a cancer immunotherapy researcher at the Medical University of Vienna, suggested that science should be communicated in ways that develop trust and empathy.

Curiosity also needs to be generated, she said, because science is not a special interest but rather is for “everyone”.