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Is the general public afraid of new scientific findings? Chemophobia: what does it mean and do we suffer from it? What are the values that come forward, and which ones are lost in public debate on science?
Scientists have a natural need to publish their results. Very often this occurs in professional publications with numerous accurate curves and tables. But what happens when a journalist takes up an interesting scientific discovery and explains it to the public in an understandable manner?
Too often the simplification of a complex study leads to misunderstandings, prejudice, hype and even fear. Cautious warnings can turn into threats and critical debate is buried beneath straightforward interpretation.
Attending Tuesday morning’s plenary will be representatives of both the scientific and journalistic communities. They will be taking up subjects that many of us have asked ourselves but possibly never said out loud.
Ever since we can remember, we have been told by the press that the world is full of dangerous diseases, destructive natural phenomena and – of course –risks to our health. We have a right to know what is happening around us and to take care of ourselves. However, putting too much of an emphasis on the bad news might make us blind to the actual problems while focusing our attention on issues of secondary importance. An example of this is put forward by Professor Deborah Blum, whose subject is the unfounded fears surrounding chemicals – even the ones that sustain life.
Come, listen, discuss – and be critical!