It is clear that science and technology are becoming increasingly important to society and that individual citizens must be able to discern fact from fiction when they are making decisions related to the environment, public or personal health, consumerism or simply acting as informed responsible citizens in a democratic society.
However, in the age of the Internet and social media, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to know whom or what to believe. While it must be acknowledged that the aforementioned topics do certainly have socio-economic and political dimension, they remain at their fundamental level scientific issues and therefore a proper public understanding and appreciation of science is essential to a functional and prosperous society.
As we can see from the current existence of such a large number of websites or news items related to climate change, GMOs, vaccination, organic agriculture or medicine and its ‘alternatives’ that there is clearly an appetite among the general public for an understanding of scientific issues. The problem remains that there is a lot of misinformation and pseudoscience among the reliable sources of information. This confusion has also led to a mistrust among members of the public on credible sources of scientific information and a push-back on authoritarian approach to science communication from academics and other experts.
I propose a chat instead (free, no fee or cost involved). As a professor of science at a major research university (University of Ottawa, Canada), I would like to meet with you on an informal basis to chat about science with you. If you are curious about scientific issues of relevance to society and would like to learn about them in a conversational and non-confrontational manner, I propose a short, one-hour chat on the scientific topics of your choice. If you are in the Ottawa area, we can meet in a public place of mutual convenience to talk about science together. If you are not local, I will meet virtually with you on Skype, Facebook or another chat platform of your choice.
Together we can discuss the facts and fiction surrounding scientific topics, the way that they may intersect with other societal factors (social, economic, moral, political etc.) and hopefully raise the level of understanding of science, as well as the general tone of civility on issues that are important to all of us.