Navigation Links
More talk, less agreement: Risk discussion can hurt consensus-building on science/technology
Date:11/4/2010

When it comes to public issues pertaining to science and technology, "talking it out" doesn't seem to work. A new study from North Carolina State University shows that the more people discuss the risks and benefits associated with scientific endeavors, the more entrenched they become in their viewpoint and the less likely they are to see the merit of other viewpoints.

"This research highlights the difficulty facing state and federal policy leaders when it comes to high-profile science and technology issues, such as stem cell research or global warming," says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of the study. "Government agencies view research on these issues as vital and necessary for the country's future, but building public consensus for that research is becoming increasingly difficult."

The researchers set out to see how people talk about risks associated with unfamiliar science and technology issues, Binder explains. "Most people, when faced with an issue related to science and technology, adopt an initial position of support or opposition," Binder says. "Our results demonstrate very clearly that the more people talk about divisive science and technology issues, the less likely the two camps are to see the issue in the same way. This is problematic because it suggests that individuals are very selective in choosing their discussion partners and hearing only what they want to hear during discussions of controversial issues."

In the study, the researchers focused on public debate related to the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), which the federal government discussed building in one of six sites around the country. Some members of the public opposed building a facility housing highly infectious animal diseases in their community. The six proposed sites were Athens, Ga., Manhattan, Kan., Plum Island, N.Y., Butner, N.C., Flora, Miss., and San Antonio, Texas. Manhattan was ultimately selected as the site for the NBAF.

The researchers conducted surveys of residents living near the proposed sites to collect data on people's perceptions of the potential risks and benefits associated with NBAF. Specifically, the results showed that, among people who opposed the facility, the more an individual discussed the issue with other people in their community, the more firmly entrenched he/she became in his/her perception of greater risks and fewer benefits. Conversely, among those who supported the facility, increased discussion led to an increased perception of benefits and a decreased perception of risks.

This research was done as part of an overarching grant project funded by the National Science Foundation, which is aimed at understanding the public opinion and policy dynamics surrounding site-selections for federal research facilities.

"This work will likely inform future decision-making on how federal agencies engage the public in regard to large-scale research initiatives," Binder says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Animals talk, sing and act like humans?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/28/2016)... 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA ), a leading developer ... quarter ended December 31, 2015. --> ... 2016 increased 2 percent compared to the comparable quarter last year ... 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 per diluted share. ... the first quarter of fiscal 2016 grew 9 percent over the ...
(Date:1/22/2016)... , Jan. 22, 2016 ... addition of the "Global Biometrics Market ... their offering. --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ... "Global Biometrics Market in Retail Sector ... --> Research and Markets ( ...
(Date:1/18/2016)... , Jan. 18, 2016  Extenua Inc., ... that simplifies the use and access of ubiquitous ... go-to-market partnership with American Cyber.  ... extensive experience leading transformational C4ISR and Cyber initiatives ... integrating the latest proven technology solutions," said ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Curoverse announced today that the ... provides capabilities for managing and processing genomic and health data at petabyte scale. ... collecting and analyzing genomic data,” said Adam Berrey chief executive officer at Curoverse. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) , ... February 09, 2016 ... ... and design services and current winner of the Highest Overall Customer Rating ... certification in all of its business units across the USA, Canada, Mexico and ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... ... Date and time: March 1, 2016, 5:30 p.m. to ... of Bucks County, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902. , The Baruch ... house for participants to learn about a new Master of Biomedical Science (MBS) ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... , ... Tunnell Consulting, Inc. announced that Frédéric Lefebvre has joined the firm ... new accounts and work closely with existing Tunnell clients throughout Europe to ensure their ... clients more than 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, a thorough knowledge ...
Breaking Biology Technology: