Tag Archives: Elise Andrew

American scientists v. the rest of us

Traditionally, the relationship between our nation’s scientists and the rest of us has been somewhat distant. It’s hard to accept what you don’t understand without a serious education — even scientists have to accept findings outside their individual fields that they may not quite comprehend. However, some disturbing trends have caused concern over the nature of disparities between these parties.

Scientists are annoyed with the public. Graphic from Totally Off Beat
Scientists are annoyed with the public. Graphic from Totally Off Beat

A recent set of surveys by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) found that scientists and the public have widely different views about scientific issues. Their research shows that the scientists surveyed tended to have a more positive opinion of many newer technologies than the general public.

While it’s been clear to many that these disparities exist (such as the ongoing debate on global climate change), the most troubling result of these surveys is that they show a small decline in positive views about science. In a study done in 2009, 83% of Americans felt that science made life better, whereas the numbers from 2014 show that only 79% of Americans share this view.

Major differences in the views of scientists surveyed and the public include GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), pesticides, and fracking. Most scientists (88%) said they viewed GMO foods as safe, but only 37% of their fellow Americans said they felt the same. Similarly, 68% of scientists stated that pesticides are safe, but only about a fourth (28%, to be exact) of the US public said they shared the belief. And 39% of the American public said they are for fracking, whereas only 31% of the surveyed scientists agreed.

AAAS CEO Alan Leshner responded to these poll results, claiming “such disparity is alarming because it ultimately affects both science policy and scientific progress.”

The economy, policies on natural resources, and our own self-care are only a few of the areas that scientific innovations make a huge impact on our nation. Therefore, the public opinion and accessible communications between the public and scientists are a major concern for all Americans. This set of surveys simply underscores the necessity of improving communications on both scientific work and the motivations behind it.

Clearly, there’s  a need to ensure that science maintains and builds its place in our society through having members of the scientific community engage with the public in ways that allow them to hear from fellow citizens. Unfortunately, oftentimes the loudest voices of disagreement from those sharing opinions with our nation’s scientists seem to be aggressive, labeling people as deniers or irrational.

Hopefully, with these new figures to motivate, those like curator of IFLScience Elise Andrew will continue trying to make scientific innovations and understanding more accessible and fun to engage in, as well as motivating others to further the effort.

I f–king love SCI2

Elise Andrew is the curator of the IFLS (I Fucking Love Science) Facebook page and website where a large portion of inspiration for the lovely content you find right here comes from. Later this year she will be teaming up with the Science Channel to bring you the best science videos the internet has to offer.

The collection will feature on TV through the SCI2 channel and concentrate on popular science. And, according to Andrew, she’s excited to have the opportunity to weed through a lot of junk science to provide a thoroughly proven assortment of real science. She hopes to get the name out for other bloggers and Internet do-gooders who simply really fucking love science and want to share what they know with the world.

Yeah, science! Graphic from Geeks of Doom
Yeah, science! Graphic from Geeks of Doom

Andrew’s Facebook fame is a story or surprising success, even to her. She began to compile interesting facts, images, and videos and post them on a page for her own amusement and claims she never expected it to go farther than a few dozen of her friends. However, within the first 24 hours of creating the page, Andrew had over 1,000 likes and within six months reached over 1 million. As of Oct. 26, the page has 18,689,377 likes.

Significantly less popular, but hosting similar content, is Andrew’s clean (language-wise) Facebook page Science is Awesome. While it has just as good quality content, perhaps you might recommend this to kids and stick with the original for your adult friends.

The Internet can be a fickle friend, however, as was made clear in March 2013 when Andrews created a Twitter account for the IFLS page with her face as the avatar. Fans seemed shocked to find out that Andrew’s was a woman, despite sharing that information on several occasions. The reactions were rather sexist, Andrew claims, and she was baffled by the sheer stupidity — er, lack of observation — from her supposedly science loving followers.

Andrew’s and the Science Channel’s team up isn’t the first of its kind, nor is it the first for Andrew. She has also curated videos for Discovery Communications in Aug. 2013 for their streaming site. To get caught up on this previous collection, find them and much more on IFLS’s Youtube channel.