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Hobbits, hunters and hydrology: Images of a "missing link," and its scientific communication

, : Hobbits, hunters and hydrology: Images of a "missing link," and its scientific communication. Public Understanding of Science 22(5): 575-589

Dissemination of the 2004 discovery of Homo floresiensis, aka the "Flores Hobbit," provides the case material for an analysis of science communication models, using coverage of the find in science journals, popular science magazines, and UK newspapers. A distinction is made between "popular science" and "public science," the latter notable for the proactive manner in which it seeks not simply to interpret science for a wider audience, but also expand upon it. The nature of the flows of knowledge between science and nonscience cultures is used to critique both traditional canonical models of science communication, and more recent constructivist accounts like that of Hilgartner's "continuum" model. The paper concludes by suggesting an extended model that builds on the logic of the river metaphor used by both Hilgartner and Gieryn. It is argued that this more complex, multi-directional, "hydrologic" model provides a richer account of science communication.


PMID: 23833172

DOI: 10.1177/0963662511419627

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