Over the past 20 yrs, the proportion of the public paying 'very close attention' to news coverage about science and technology has dropped 50%

Pew has released an extensive analysis by political scientist Michael Robinson of three decades of its news consumption data. Among the key findings, since the 1980s, the percentage of the public who say they follow news about science and technology "very closely" has dropped by half, from roughly 30% during the 1980s to roughly 15% today. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who say they follow personalities and entertainment has doubled to 17%, while the proportion paying very close attention to terrorism/war; bad weather; and money top all issues, with each at 40% respectively.

In a separate analysis of Pew's News Index tracking for the second quarter of 2007, the research group reports that over the past three months, news about either the environment or science accounted for only 3% of total news coverage, while health and medicine accounted for roughly 4%.

Once again, these numbers underscore the stark reality that engaging the public through popular science media only reaches the already informed, interested, and knowledgeable. In the digital age, it's a problem of too many media choices. Absent a preference for science news, the public tunes out, choosing to devote their attention to other types of news content, or more likely, other forms of entertainment media. At the same time, news organizations are cutting back on the time and space devoted to science, technology, and the environment while also cutting back on their science and technology correspondents.

The challenge is to figure out how to recast, or frame, information about science in ways that attract the interest of non-traditional audiences and that reach them via the media that they prefer to use, whether it's entertainment media, sports, weather, or celebrity and leisure coverage. A lot of this depends on facilitating incidental exposure to science, reaching audiences with science-related content in media places where they are not looking for it.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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