Scientists vs The Public: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

12 07 2009

A survey came out last week involving members of the public and scientists.  It says that 84% of the public feels that science has had a mostly positive impact on society.

That’s good news—shows we’re not trashing the scientific method.

About half of that 84% cite medical developments as the positive impact:  “The largest share of that group (32% of the total) names medical and health care in general, 24% cite disease research, cures or vaccines and 4% cite advances in the use of stem cells.”

While most of us are yahooing over the science, it has to be said that the scientists aren’t exactly happy about us.

A whopping 85% of scientists say our lack of scientific knowledge is a problem and almost half shake their heads at our unrealistic expectations.  They also say that members of the media kind of stink at educating the public and getting the facts right.  (OK, we’re paraphrasing, but you get the idea.)

There are shocking differences of opinion between scientists and the public and some comforting similarities.

The survey covered more areas than are discussed here and is worth a read.  As members of the public, we walked away with the notion that providing more education in the sciences for America’s youth is a critical next step.

But, let’s not forget communication.

Scientists are more accustomed to lecturing than listening.  It’s not surprising, given the training they go through, but it can be alienating.  They need to learn to have conversations with us.  Listen to us.  And, we need to listen to them.

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Facebook: Are We a Page Yet?

27 05 2009

Facebook (FB) is a good place to network with friends or keep up with your favorite causes or orgs.  It’s also good at causing confusion.

On FB, there are Pages, Profiles, Groups and Applications – and there’s Home.  Well, there’s a lot of other stuff, but we have to start somewhere.

Here are a few tips, but you’ll get the most out of FB by clicking on things and trying them out.

Profile

The Profile is your starting point. Before you can do anything else on FB, you need to have a profile.  After you sign up on FB, you fill in the profile info.

You can then adjust how open, or how private, you want your FB profile to be.

You’ll find that the Profile page and the Pages page(s) look very similar. That’s because they are, but they’re not.  It’s painful, isn’t it!

Just remember that the Profile page is where all your power is, and you’ll be good.

Home

The Home page is like your hometown newspaper, if your newspaper only printed news about you and your friends.

Every morning, or five times an hour, depending on your level of addiction to FB, you get on FB and you look at your Home page.  You’ll see news that your friends have posted and you can post what you’re up to in the “What’s On Your Mind” share box at the top of the Home and Profile pages.

Anytime you post anything in that share box, it goes to all your friends.  If you want to communicate directly with one or more friends, and not blast something to all your friends on FB, go to “Inbox” at the top of any of your pages on FB and click on it.

Start typing in your friend’s name as it appears on FB and their name will pop up, you then click on it and type in your message and hit send.

Pages

Pages are a way of sharing your hobbies or interests, or promoting a business, organization or celebrity.

FB users can see your Page(s) and “fan” the page to show their support.  They don’t have to be friends of your FB account to see your Pages.

A Page looks similar to the Profile, and you have many of the same options for tweaking it, because it also has the Wall, Info, Photos and other tabs (see the PKIDs’ GETVAXED page below).

GETVAXED_Facebook_Page

Pages allow information, pics and videos to be constantly streaming (much like Profiles).  This gives the FB Page an opportunity to be a main source of information for fans (a.k.a. page users).

For someone using FB to network as an org, one of the best parts of a Page is the analytics available to measure traffic and growth. Through these metrics, you can track your Page’s progress and set goals for success.

Groups

Groups were the first big thing on Facebook. Anyone could make one to show support for their passion (see the PKIDs’ FB Group below).

PKIDs Facebook Profile

Compared to Pages and Profiles, Groups are more of a static source of information. You can “join” a Group just as you would “fan” a Page, but the Page and the Profile are the champions of providing quick information updates. You could almost look at a Group as a business listing in the phone book.

Applications

Applications, or Apps, can be integrated into the Profile or Page as tabs and boxes (under the Boxes tab or as a box on the Wall tab). This allows a Page or Profile to be much more interactive (and fun!).

FB apps are developed by companies and individual developers, not always by FB employees.

There are thousands of FB apps and the complete application directory can be found here.

P.S.

You can search for Groups, Pages, Profiles and Applications by using the search box in the top right corner (shown below).

Facebook Search

Have further questions about FB? Ask them by commenting below. And look forward to next week where we go in-depth about finding and sharing health info on Facebook.

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Researching Health Information on Twitter: Tip#1 – Hash It!

19 05 2009

Twitter_Logo

Social media has made the spread of information lightening fast.

One of the most interactive and helpful social media Websites is Twitter, a microblogging service that lets you make frequent 140 character updates.

As an avid Tweeter myself, I have found quite the handful of useful tools to navigate the Twitterspace. Some of these tools can be used to stay abreast of pertinent health information.

Tip #1 is the hashtag (#). The hashtag lets someone follow a conversation or relate his or her tweet (a.k.a. message) to a topic.

Take a look at one of  PKIDs’ tweets:

Twitter_Post_PKIDs_profile

In the post, there are multiple hashtags (#cellphones, #germ, #health) that, when typed into Twitter’s search box, will allow you to follow the current trends on that subject.

View what the search box looks like below. It’s also featured on the bottom right side of your Twitter profile page (or look at http://twitter.com/pkids).

Twitter_Search_pkids_profile

The search function also shows recent hot topics and allows you to search for topics you’re interested, i.e. #health for health information.

So, why use the hashtag?

Not every hashtag has a conversation attached, but the # attached to a word allows Twitter users to tag relevant posts so others can find them, even if you aren’t following their posts on Twitter. Hashtags before a specific word, like #health, also help exclude irrelevant posts like “I am a health freak,” which wouldn’t teach you much.

Here are a few good hashtag choices for health info:
#health
#wellness
#medicine
#medical

If you want more specific health information use the specific disease or virus name, like #hepatitis or #H1N1.

There are also Twitter-independent tools you can use to follow health information on Twitter, without getting a Twitter account. TweetDeck and Search.Twitter.com are two that are easy and free to use.

And remember, as with all information on the Web, not all of it is credible. Consult your doctor before acting on any health advice from a third party.

Stay tuned next week for another tip on social media and your health.