The vast majority of scientific papers are of direct interest only to specialists, even if they report research of long-term importance. Usually, new research results are disseminated within the research community via conference presentations and journal papers; wider communication is usually an afterthought. However, the way this is done – by, for instance, press conferences or media releases – can strongly color public reactions and attitudes, especially if there are immediate implications for people’s health or way of life. And even when a result is firm, it is important to convey its impact fairly – neither over-hyping potential spin-offs, nor exaggerating potential risks.
It is absolutely necessary that people are educated about the importance of science so that they can appreciate their hard-earned cash being used for such research which mightn’t have any immediate results but are certainly a part of the ultimate savior in the long run of our civilization.
Many of the biggest controversies in science over the past few years have risen at least partly from problems in the process of communicating research results to the public. Although the number of problems has been relatively small compared to the overall output of research, they nevertheless can potentially affect tens if not hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And most of these problems appear in fields like human health that directly affect people. However, given the so called ‘climate change denial movement’ and its sudden blooming success in the post-Trump era, the problem of scientific ignorance is way more complex than thought. The importance of scientific literacy, therefore, is realized more than ever before.