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Hasina

Online Comments Skew Perception of Science

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Trolls' Online Comments Skew Perception of Science

When people read a science news story online, chances are they'll find a string of comments below, and the comments aren't always civil. But these comments actually influence people's perception of the science, a new studyicon1.png suggests.

The Internet provides a forum for discussing issues in a way that traditional media did not. "You used to use media by yourself. Now, it's almost like reading the newspaper in middle of a busy street with people yelling in your ear what you should and shouldn’t believe," study co-author Dietram Scheufele, a communication scholar at the Universityicon1.png of Wisconsin-Madison, told LiveScience.

Uncivil commenters (knowninformally as "trolls") dominate online discussions with comments such as: "Wonder how much taxpayer cash went into this 'deep' study?" and "This article is 100 percent propaganda crapola." Such digital rants and diatribes are a staple of today's media environment.

Scheufele and colleagues studied how online incivility affects readers' perceptions of a scientific issue — specifically, nanotechnology. They found that impolite comments on a blog post about the science skewed people's views of the technology'sicon1.png risks and benefits. The findings, presented Thursday (Feb. 14) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.

...

The results showed that rude blog comments appear to make readers polarized about the risks of an issue — namely, nanotechnology — depending on how religious the reader is, as well as the individual's prior support for the issue.

Just as politicians bickering on television may push people to extreme positions, rude or disparaging blog comments can divide readers, according to the study's authors. The effect of online comments may be "especially troublesome" for science communicators, they write, particularly for contentious issues such as evolution or climate change.

Source: http://www.livescien...perception.html

Edited by Hasina

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Wonder how much taxpayer cash went into this 'deep' study?

:P

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I find this, from the report, particularly interesting:

"depending on how religious the reader is, as well as the individual's prior support for the issue"

It seems that the science behind such "stories" is not even a consideration...

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I find this, from the report, particularly interesting:

"depending on how religious the reader is, as well as the individual's prior support for the issue"

It seems that the science behind such "stories" is not even a consideration...

and that in itself is pretty skewed, as it seems to assume that if a person is "religious", then they'll find concepts such as Evolution controversial. I think about the only "religious" people who do still find that contraversial is a particular kind of Bible Belt Bible Basher, who are by no means necessarily typical.

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I think the biases and level of education and level of overall competence of posters comes across reasonably well, so that people can tell.

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