S. Mo Jang
This study examined how citizens select science information online based on their preexisting issue attitudes. Voluntary national samples browsed through an online news magazine featuring divergent viewpoints about four controversial science topics (stem cell, evolution, genetically modified foods, and global warming). Their online activities, including article selection and the length of exposure, were unobtrusively measured by behavior tracking software. Participants tended to choose science information that challenged rather than supported their views concerning stem cell and genetically modified foods. However, those who perceived that they had sufficient science knowledge and were religious exhibited confirmation-bias, preferring congruent to incongruent information.
Genetically modified foods have become one of the most popular topics for deliberative exercises involving ordinary citizens worldwide. This paper examines the Taiwanese consensus conference on GM foods held in June 2008, and the implications and limitations of the public deliberations. The consensus conference facilitated multiparty dialogues and enhanced citizens’ knowledge, and affected their attitudes. This study demonstrates the ways contextual factors have influenced the outcome of the citizens’ deliberative practices, including the government’s conventional technocratic decision-making style, the strong influence of the U.S. government, the political and technological culture, the government’s framing of economic development concerns, and a lack of pressure from civil society to compel the government to formally respond to their concerns. The consensus conference had a limited effect on policy decision-making, and seemed to serve as a socio-political experiment.