Engaging the Ballarat Community in Science


So I started the Ballarat Science in the Community Facebook page/group in July of this year (2016) in an effort to improve the scientific engagement and scientific literacy within the Ballarat community.  This came out of conversations with people who had been turned off from STEM learning and asking, why?

It was also a desire to engage and have discussions with people in an effort to combat the growing climate of science denial and anti-science sentiment here in Australia and around the world.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that there’s been a dangerously low amount of conversation, of rational argument or discussion. People aren’t talking to each other about important topics.  In everything from science to politics people aren’t engaging each other or debating ideas. One of the things that Professor Brian Cox said regarding the Brexit vote in the UK was that it was an emotional conversation, there was no rational debate. You could tell this because if it was, then there would have been people publicly changing their minds. The evidence presented to them would have changed the minds of some people and that wasn’t happening.

I think this is also particularly visible in the GMO debate, where the majority of publicity or public outcry is either; “GMO’s aren’t safe.” Or “Yes they ARE.”

Leaving the average layperson thinking “What the hell is a GMO?” More often than not what you get from people (I.e. The Internet) is one side yelling abuse or insult to the other.

Now, I should point out that I think GMOs offer an amazing benefit to human kind and that the evidence says they’re perfectly safe.

I think what can happen from the scientifically literate internet community is that they forget their audience may have been misled or may never have developed the critical thinking and scientific tools necessary to differentiate fact from fiction, science from pseudo-science. Or, they are still waiting for someone to tell the what GMO actually means. They can tend to criticize and ridicule rather than educate.

It’s time for calm a discussion, it’s time to edify. That’s where you, and Ballarat Science in the Community comes in.

Now that I’ve finished Uni for the year I thought a great way to celebrate would be to get on with generating content and increasing our presence. I’ve got a few things in the works and though for my first Blog post I’d let you know what some of them are.

As you can see I started a blog and got some new artwork (thanks again to the good Mr Ryan Fullerton for helping me out.)  The Facebook page will still operate as usual but the Blog will be where I publish my regular content like the Vaccine thread and investigated questions that were part of the FB page.

My notebook is full of plans, ideas and contacts, for the public science events in the Ballarat community, the aim is to get something up and running in the first half of next year. If there’s a particular field, subject or speakers you’d like me to have at these events let me know and I’ll see what I can find.

I’ve also started discussions with a local production company about generating content for a web series that would be in the same vein of the Facebook page where we have a list of questions and very interesting things to investigate with an open discussion taking place as we go.

I’ve got a couple of topics I want to jump into with everyone, as well as putting up some of the previous discussions from the Facebook page, so you’ll start to see this blog populated over the next few weeks.

Until then,

Ask your questions, support your arguments with evidence, discuss, edify.

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