Naming is framing: The public understanding of scientific names


Naming is framing: The public understanding of scientific names

Promovendus mr. RJ (Reginald) Boersma
Promotor prof.dr. HGJ (Bart) Gremmen
Copromotor dr. PM (Marijn) Poortvliet
Organisatie Wageningen University & Research, Strategic Communication, Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

ma 4 juni 2018 16:00 tot 17:30

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen


Genomics, Climate Change, Nanotechnology, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance… For the uninitiated, scientific names created by experts can be difficult to understand. Yet, people have to make decisions about the related scientific concepts. Experts reach understanding with theory and expect non-experts to do the same. However, my research shows that people can satisfy their need to make sense of what they are dealing with by just using associations triggered by a name. For example, people often unfairly presume that genomics and the controversial genetic manipulation are the same because of their similar names. Resulting beliefs are convincing enough to make decisions and they are difficult to change because activated associations influence further learning. This can cause persistent misunderstandings and unnecessary controversies that can harm scientific developments. By working together, experts and the public can prevent misunderstanding by co-creating names that foster meaningful associations by non-experts and promote appropriate understandings.