scientific knowledge

Relationship between scientific knowledge and fortune-telling

Paichi Pat Shein, Yuh-Yuh Li, Tai-Chu Huang

This study takes on a relational and situated perspective to understand the relationship between scientific knowledge and fortune-telling. Measures included socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge of scientific facts and methods, and fortune-telling beliefs and practices. A sample of 1863 adults was drawn from a population of Taiwanese citizens using the method of probability proportional to size. The findings showed that knowledge of scientific methods was negatively associated with fortune-telling beliefs. However, knowledge of scientific facts was, by and large, positively associated with engagement in fortune-telling practices, a phenomenon known as cognitive polyphasia. This study does not imply that science communication or education have no effect on promoting scientific knowledge; rather, it hopes to encourage researchers and practitioners to use a culturally sensitive lens to rethink the role of science in society and its relationship with other forms of knowledge and belief.

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Headlice eradication as everyday engagement with science: An analysis of online parenting discussions

Christine Hine

This paper focuses on the way in which people deploy scientific knowledge alongside other resources in everyday interactions. In the UK headlice are common amongst schoolchildren, and treatment is viewed as a parental responsibility. Choice between treatment options lies with individual parents, with official guidance giving no clear steer. In the face of this combination of responsibility and uncertainty, users of an online parenting forum justify their actions using a variety of resources, including claims to scientific knowledge of both headlice and the action of various treatments, but also drawing on the authority of having direct experience, trust in brand-named products and generalised suspicion of “chemical” treatments. These discussions occasion expression of knowledge as part of portraying oneself as a responsible parent, and thus while they do not necessarily represent public knowledge about science more generally, they do offer a useful site to explore what people do with science.

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