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  1. As one who blogs, tweets and uses FB, this is a very pertinent issue. ‘Public Engagement’ is a laudable aim of course and you are right to raise the assumption that the ‘public’ is present and wants to be engaged. From experience, I can vouch for the ‘echo chamber’ effect and the power of algorithms. I do however have a very small number of people who post on my FB timeline views which are, well, ‘different’. I’ve recently read about the ‘backfire effect’: “given evidence against their beliefs, people can reject the evidence and believe even more strongly” (Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler), and if Jonathan Haidt is correct about moral intuitions and George Lakoff is on ‘framing’, then we need to learn a set of skills that goes beyond transmitting ‘facts’ through reason and data, beyond explaining/discussing the science or theory. Actually, getting to the ‘discussion’ phase would be great! To what degree are ‘academics’ prepared for communicating in this way? I find reflexivity useful, and trying to understand why the other person takes their view…how does my message (which might be fact based) come across? What works in seminars, lectures, tutorials with students who least want to be engaged (in theory at least!) as you know will not wash with for example a white supremacist when discussing gun laws or health inequalities. I know that is an extreme example of an exchange on SM, but it is born of experience.

    • I wonder if that points to scholarly communication necessarily becoming professionalised e.g. as people get training to learn to deal with backfire effects and to think about framing effects?

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