In the days of global warming and BSE, science is increasingly a public issue. This book provides a theoretical framework which allows us to understand why and how scientists address the general public. The author develops the argument that turning to the public is not simply a response to inaccurate reporting by journalists or to public curiosity, nor a wish to gain recognition and additional funding. Rather, it is a tactic to which the scientific community are pushed by certain "internal" crisis situations. Bucchi examines three cases of scientists turning to the public: the cold fusion case, the COBE/Big Bang issue and Louis Pasteur's public demonstration of the anthrax vaccine, a historical case of "public science." Finally, Bucchi presents his unique model of communications between science and the public, carried out through the media. This is a thoughtful and wide-ranging treatment of complex contemporary issues, touching upon the history and sociology of science, communication and media studies. Bucchi's theories on scientific communication in the media are a valuable contribution to the current debate on this subject.
Massimiano Bucchi is Professor of Science and Technology in Society at the University of Trento, Italy.