Public perception of science
How does the public perceive science?
When I started this in 2020, I didn’t think I would still be this interested in the topic. I am slightly obsessed with science but in the 12 months of the pandemic I have tried to understand the balance and how much understanding should be expected of the public when it comes to health. In trying to understand this, I use myself as an example and try to look at other fields I do consider equally as important: finance and politics. I'm not that engaged and do I have the basic knowledge every adult should have?
Is science made to seem inaccessible and deliberately confusing and complicated? After a year of immunology and public health at the forefront of discussion, has this changed public perception of science. Where do scientists stand and how do we better engage outside of the conventional outreach activities that show science is “fun”?
In my first survey with 149 respondents people were more on the fence and had a lot of hesitancy around vaccines and pharmaceutical companies and it would be especially interesting to see how this has changed. So I’m doing another survey : Public perception of science 2 survey.
Lets talk about my thoughts in this area:
What do I think people are concerned about?
Are vaccines safe? After a year and millions of people given at least their first doses and further rollouts. Safety questions around the vaccines won’t just go away. While I believe my immediate circle both personal and online are pro-vaccine many people are on the fence. The safety of the vaccine has been questioned for many reasons and I have seen sci commers and scientists fight hard at trying to understand the facts. Social media guidelines now indicate vaccine safety and links to official organisation posts.
At the start people were very much concerned about vaccine safety, the false links with autism, lack of representative studies including minority populations. The truth is looking outside the UK , many trials were quite representative as they included a range of different countries . More than 400.1 million doses administered . Of those vaccines, the most controversial has been the Oxford/Astrazeneca (OX/AZ) vaccines. With many European countries haulting rollout before further confirmation from EMA of its safety.
On a positive side,people tweeting their side effects form the vaccine has most likely reduced hesitancy around the vaccine. We cannot forget about the amazing work done my many communities in translating work and what does this mean for trust in science.
Science has confused us. The Oxford/ Astrazeneca has perhaps been the most confusing vaccine.
Following on science twitter and news headlines. Has it been science that has confused us or media headlines mixed with politics. The science hasn’t changed much and neither has the general opinion but what has changed is how government and media choose to use the information and when to share “facts”. The oxford/ Astrazeneca group in my opinion had an amazing start to the vaccine with the best video online explaining the process of vaccination. But it seemed after that things took a turn for the confusing. The battle of OX/AZ against Europe. It is not recommended for over 65s in Europe and now the controversies around blood clots. While the WHO and health organisations consider it all to be safe. T
I have often felt overwhelmed with information and news of new variants sending a deep panic. This has left the question of have I just overcomplicated things and want clarity of every detail or has it left people fatigued to even read about the news and altogether just avoid the confusion?
Variants,Variants, Variants ! How can this affect the future ?
Variants are the main attention looking forward in this pandemic. What we know is that they lead to decreased vaccine efficacy. Knowing this, would it be useful to have a guide on all the variants that is easy to check or does knowing that the world could change just cause further anxiety. The next few steps in understanding peoples relationship with important science news is gauging what the appetite for it is.
This next question might seem quite random but it was a question I often found myself asking even with all the research I did.
Do people actually understand what the main aims of vaccines are?
This has been an interesting concept. Has the talk around vaccines offered a false sense of security . A maskless society by June seems a bit ambitious but we will not find out until that time comes. Vaccines are mainly made to stop deaths and the standard is a vaccine with greater than 50% efficacy is considered a good vaccine. While I am not an immunology expert. We can see that vaccines with an efficacy of 95% tend to make the other candidates look incredibly poor or subpar and making people a lot more hesitant. This is a huge problem for many European countries with the fears of it being less than. We are living through an era of scientific development that shows the power of great focus collaboration and years of groundbreaking research.
Can too many options be a problem?
Has Covid-19 shown what scientists across different fields deal with on a daily basis ( this is really what science is about and shows how scientists have to continuously challenge their thoughts when presented with new information )
The information about Covid-19 is forever evolving and I see that has contributed to public controversy in not wanting to believe scientists but this is an accurate insight into the world of science. Science and medicine are different. Science is innovative and pushes boundaries there is usually just general consensus on how things work and people are trying to push boundaries and add to knowledge which can lead to change in a consensus opinion in a field. So with science its not that it is a lie it is that people really don’t know.
To the public… i don’t know is a confusing but probably the most honest thing you will hear out of the mouth of a scientists.
“ I don’t know” from a scientist should’t be scary
How has all of this changed public perception of science? The points have just been my observation and so I would really appreciate if you take some time to answer this second survey -> Survey
should not take more than 5minutes and will go into completing my public perception of science project.
The results of the last survey have already been published and the results of this one will be added !: Public perception of science